Brew Biz: Werts and All

Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay and Music City Homebrewers, who has been interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast for over 10 years.

Note: these pictures are a lot better than what I usually take. That’s because I didn’t take them. Courtesy of The Barley Mob.

We got there at about 7:30 am after leaving Nashville at 3:30am. There’s a time change and we didn’t want to be late for our 8am judge gathering. Luckily we called for information and pulled up maps. The address is Patten Parkway. A one block “Parkway?” Well, whatever. If Tony Giannasi, master homebrewer, builder of grand, huge, tap displays, competition organizer and alien from the planet Snorpschnatch… (OK, I made that one up, but since the oceans on Snorpschnatch are all high gravity ales he probably wishes he was.) … (If Tony) hadn’t been standing outside with boxes of prizes and corny kegs of beer we would have thought we were in the wrong place. The Honest Pint in Chattanooga is a work in progress: not open yet. And as you can tell from the chandeliers alone it will be magnificent.

The Pint was, in a previous incarnation, a billiard hall. And hopefully not previous to that incarnation… Jimmy Hoffa. Hmmm… we did have to worry about getting “cement overshoes” a bit. More on that later.

So, Saturday: December 11th, Millie and I judged beer in Chattanooga at the second Fugetaboutit Homebrew Competition. Run by local homebrew club, The Barley Mob. Last year it was at Terminal Brewhouse. This year they found, a mere handful of weeks before competition, that they had so many entries the competition had to be moved. Luckily the new owners of a new pub had plenty of upstairs room to spare: The Honest Pint in Chattanooga. And the new owners would be… also the owners of The Terminal Brewhouse. Whew!

The construction crew worked on the downstairs while we judged upstairs. Somehow I imagine they might have been a bit jealous.

My manic depressive camera refused to give me pictures of all the construction, so I’ll have to paint pictures with my words. Now where did I put my rhetorical crayons? Kidding! They were doing a great job, but what do I know of rebuilding, reinventing, a pub almost from scratch?

Not much.

The upstairs where we judged was fine: darts, pool, gorgeous half wood walls and a blackboard for graffiti. Anyone know how the “pregnant hamster” got pregnant? When it’s in a place not only about to serve a lot of beer and filled with judges judging a lot of beer during the competition, but also probably served a lot in the past, does anyone really want to know?

The first picture is The Honest Pint and the judges hard at work. The second is of a pub in Massachusetts.

You see The Honest Pint is a lot like Eaglebrook Saloon in Norfolk, Mass., there’s a wild west sense like Eaglebrook, but also a bit English pub-ish. While Eaglebrook has more backrooms and bigger in other ways, the balcony itself is bigger and more grand at The Honest Pint. It allows you to peer down at the pub/tap room from all sides, not just three. Beautiful wood half walls, darts, pool… quite the place to quaffe’.

If you clicked on the Eaglebrook link I can vouch for the stew and the chili and also the other restaurant mentioned near the Adirondacks: The Buffalo Head… not too far from where I partially grew up. If the Pint even comes close to serving the quality food either of these serve they should do well.

They’re not going to serve the beer brewed at Terminal at The Honest Pint, I was told. One wonders if they might eventually take a cue from Eaglebrook where they have beer on tap made to their specifications. I fondly remember Dog’s Breath from Eaglebrook. Doesn’t matter they vend out: that good and the food at The Brook is incredible. Of course if The Pint is as good as Terminal they should be on the right track. We had the lamb stew that Terminal brought over for the judges lunch time, and since we were one of the last tables to finish we missed most of the lamb. (Curse you, Red Barron. Who knew he was also a home brew judge? Or did he sneak off with all the meat while Snoopy-ing around? Was he on the… lamb?) Even mostly meatless it was quite good.

Downstairs, at The Honest Pint, they were cementing the floor, building a multi-tap bar, a dining area off to the left as you walk in; all while we judged. Bathrooms downstairs: unfortunately over the floor that was being cemented in an interesting, yet puzzling; “can’t wait to see the final product,” decorative fashion. That meant us beer judges had to walk the wide, brown, carpeted wood stairs once beer samples created the urge. Then we got to walk the plank over fresh cement: the only way to get to the stairs down to the bathroom in the cellar. Since beer turns us beer judges into supermen and women no one fell once we did have to go. I’m joking about the super part, of course, but I think it does say a lot about the moderation and dedication of judges that no one did get cement overshoes, or left even a shoe print as far as I know.

Both tables I judged at: Specialty and Fruit, were challenging and run in a very professional manner. The afternoon Fruit table actually went a lot faster than AM: I felt in sync with fellow judge; Bennett Cowan. A bit less than on Specialty. Of course a lack of any fruit sense in some of the fruit beers did help judging Fruit. The morning went well too, the entries just took a bit more time to score. The choices were more distinctly on the mark, or not, in the second session.

While BOS went on upstairs there was a raffle, beer and plenty off homebrew booty to be gotten with the right tickets. A grand event that lasted into the night.

Here are the final results.

In the Spring I hope to be returning to The Honest Pint to see the finished pub and tell you more and, perhaps, some pre-info on the new brewpub where the competition is supposed to be next year: McHale’s Brewhouse.

McHale’s Brewpub: another work in progress.

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Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to review, discuss and comment on all things beer including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives all things beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the beer business, and all the various homebrew, judging and organizations related to beer. Essentially, all things “beer.”

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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