The South is responsible for many things.  NASCAR, jambalaya, social inequality, hanging chads, spaceship launches, and Vidalia onions just to name a few.  Today however, I only blame the South for one thing – A vicious hangover.  I guess it’s unfair to blame the entire region for something that was clearly my fault but Georgia and North Carolina, you guys are on notice.

Brother Barley has blessed us with many bon mots on the virtues of Southern brews.  Never one to force his opinion on anyone, the good Brother recently sent up two separate care packages to his Northeast brethren so that we may experience the new frontier of beerdom in the US.  That might be a bit of a stretch, but the South has some up and coming brew towns (Charlotte, Asheville, Athens, Charleston) that are consistently churning out reputable ales and lagers that “allegedly” compete with the best of the West and Northeast.  The problem with the South is that it’s hard to promote a product that no one (Meaning, me) can get their hands on.  Alas, Brother Barley has come to the rescue and Sudsy Von Brue has stopped by for a lengthy tasting that surely knocked both of us on our asses.  While we weren’t able to get through the entire catalogue of goodness, we did take down 7 offerings that left us with a fine appreciation of the Southern arts.  The photo above is the aftermath of our endeavor, with a left-to-right tasting order.  On to the notes!

Terrapin Gamma Ray (Georgia) – While this was the first foray into the world of Terrapin for Sudsy, I’ve had the pleasure of pre-cracking the care package and taking down the Hopsecutioner and Wake ‘N’ Bake (Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout) on a previous tasting experience.  I was a bit surprised by this brew, probably because I didn’t read the label.  11% Wheat Wine, tasted like an uncarbonated Triple (On the lines of Victory Golden Monkey).  A bit sweet for me, I’d give it 2.5 hops

Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster – Imperial Red Ale, definitely have never come across that before.  Hell yes!  This beer rocks, absolute 3.5 hops from me.

Terrapin Rye Squared – Enjoyable to say the least.  Alcohol was just about catching up to me at this point, but I was still able to grab some subtleties in the nice malty backbone.  3 hops, solid brew.

Sweetwater Blue (Georgia)- OK, I would normally just hand this one over to Mrs. Dr. Van Drinkale and call it a night. Beer brewed with blueberries?  No, thanks.  Since Sudsy’s wife was over, The Baroness, we had her do the honors and to be quite honest I wasn’t overly disappointed in the one sip I had.  I’m giving it 2 hops, but I could be swayed into giving it anything from a 1 to a 3.  For a beer brewed with blueberries, it has to be the best ever made.  However, it’s still a beer brewed with blueberries.

Highland Oatmeal Porter (North Cacalaca)- I’m a sucker for anyone that can do a porter well, and Highland certainly knows what they’re doing.  Perfect balance of roasted malts mixed in with a luscious mouthfeel that allowed for maximum chuggage.  I know, I shouldn’t be slamming down Oatmeal Porters, but by this point it seemed like the most logical thing to do.  3.5 hops.

Sweetwater 420 – Not a huge fan of the Extra Pale Ale style, except for Berkshire Brewing Company’s version.  Sweetwater certainly does the style justice, but it was a tad on the bland side for me.  3 hops, perfectly fine but nothing to write home about.

Sweetwater Happy Ending – Obviously we had to save this beauty for last.  Imperial Stout in appearance and nose, but a bit lighter than I’ve generally found.  Absurdly easy drinking, perfect nightcap to a long, long tasting journey.  3.5 hops (Probably bumps up to a 4 with a couple of years of aging under its belt).

That’s all I can remember from a long night of drinking in the comforts of the South.  When Sudsy recovers, I’m sure he’ll add his two cents into the mix as well.  Cheers!

2 thoughts on “SOUTHERN COMFORTS

  1. Glad the Southern brews did the job. I would never claim that the Southeast can hold a candle to the other brewing regions of the US (actually, I’ve claimed the exact opposite many times). But I do think ale factories like Terrapin can compete with the best of ’em. They churn out highly drinkable session ales and well-crafted “extreme” beers. What more could you want? Other than more breweries like that, of course…

    Your notes and ratings are pretty comparable to mine. I might like the Gamma Ray a little more than you, but I think it’s just because it’s such a novel beer (I agree that it’s definitely a touch too sweet though). And I truly love the Big Hoppy Monster, but I won’t argue with your 3.5 Hops rating…that’s probably about right (I gave it a 4, but we’re just splitting hairs). I gave the Blue 2.5 Hops out of deference to Wifey McHops…it does exactly what it’s supposed to do…and pretty well, at that. But like you said, it’s a blueberry beer.

    Like the Blue, the 420 is a solid version of a less-than-solid style. It’s ubiquitous down here…kind of the Sam Adams Boston Lager of mid-range restaurants, so I order it a lot when options are limited. Very drinkable and very refreshing, but it certainly won’t knock your socks off.

    For whatever reason, we can’t get the more esoteric Sweetwater offerings here, so I was very glad to see the Happy Ending on my package store shelves. Glad you liked it. It’s a very interesting Imperial Stout…weirdly drinkable and subtle. It hits all the right notes, but it’s strangely muted in a very cool way.

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