Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top Ten Moments from 2017's Brewtopia Germany Trip

A great finish to this year would be to check out an article that I wrote for Owen Ogletree's Brewtopia site about our trip to the Bavarian region of Germany. This short list aligns with the last article posted by Rick Fifer and is the second half of my trip which started with the several posts about solo traveling through Austria and the Bavarian Alps. Close the loop and finish out the year learning more about Travel Culture and Beer!

Top Ten Moments from 2017's Brewtopia Germany Trip

By Ransome Sheets

It wasn’t until I was sitting on a train headed into downtown Munich that it finally started to sink in; I had signed up for yet another Brewtopia beer trip, what has also come to be known as an “Owen trip,” and I was about to spend the next week exploring Bavaria in the best way possible! Attending a Brewtopia trip means that you are going on an adventure with a group of people traveling overseas to learn about great beer and its history from renowned brewers, historians, enthusiasts, and more, all led by none other than Owen Ogletree himself! Just the idea of potentially getting to see a famous German Abbey, go pub hopping in Bamberg, or visit the oldest brewery in the world, is enough to get my heart racing. The long-anticipated trip had finally arrived, and yet I had no idea what was exactly in store.

While I already had high expectations, the week that followed surpassed all my preconceived notions. Our group learned that Bavarian beer predates any other beer that can now be found, and this preservation of recipe, process, and history, shapes not only their incredible beer, but also the current Bavarian culture to which it inspires. Visiting brewery Aecht Schlenkerla in Bamberg was one of my absolute favorite stops, and the passionate brew master’s quote best describes what we learned about the region’s beer: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.”

Thanks to this “Owen trip,” I have made some incredible new friends, attained priceless knowledge of Bavarian beer, and have a new-found appreciation for the preservation of fire. Since I have returned from the trip, I’m still caught in the haze stirred up by the amazing events that we experienced. I set out to create a list of my favorite events of the trip, and have struggled greatly to limit the list to 10 items! So that being said, here is my Brewtopia Bavarian Beer Top 10 List:

Friday, December 29, 2017

Beer Travel - I Want to Do That!

The major theme of this site is to encourage traveling, learning about new cultures, and finding and enjoying great beer. Following my solo trip through Austria and the Bavarian Alps, I met up with an amazing group of beer travelers and we explored the Bavarian culture which has been based around their historic beer for centuries. One of my traveling companions was Rick Fifer, a great beer writer and traveler. Rick wrote a perfect article for Brewtopia Events that describes the value of beer traveling and why you should take the plunge and make that risky decision to go on your first beer trip! Rick also discusses our Bavarian beer trip and more, so this article is perfect for TravelCultureBeer followers! Check it out:

Beer Travel - I Want to Do That!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Solo Traveling through Austria, the Bavarian Alps, and Berchtesgaden. Day 8

The Final Day, and also my favorite experience of the solo trip! Obersee Lake and the adventures that it included where absolutely incredible. What a great ending to the solo trekking part of this experience!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Solo Traveling through Austria, the Bavarian Alps, and Berchtesgaden. Day 5

Headed to a new location: Salzburg! I will miss Vienna and could have spent a lot more time there, but am looking forward to some new scenery.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Solo Traveling through Austria, the Bavarian Alps, and Berchtesgaden. Day 3

Check out Day 3 in Vienna! This is a short one as I had to work for the majority of the day, but includes a new Cafe and other random pictures.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Solo Traveling through Austria, the Bavarian Alps, and Berchtesgaden

I recently returned from an amazing 2 week trip, where I spent the first week or so solo traveling through Austria, the Bavarian Alps, and southeastern Germany, and then I met up with a Brewtopia beer group in Munich where we traveled Bavaria visiting many different places in search of great beer. During my solo traveling, I tried to keep a log each night of the experiences so that I could capture each aspect and share them. I had planned to write up many different posts about certain areas, what to expect, beer, etc., however I believe that it will be most beneficial to just share the journal logs that I wrote. I will post each day individually to provide some light reading with pictures. Please keep in mind that this was not written to posted, and that I was usually very tired each night when throwing these together. I hope that you enjoy!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Printer's Ale Manufacturing Co.

If you happen to be passing by Carrollton, Ga, make sure that stop by and grab a beer or two from one of Georgia’s newest breweries (2017). The founders of Printer’s Ale Manufacturing Company boasts a long line of family entrepreneurs in the printing, and brewing businesses. While the two industries don’t necessarily overlap, “PAMCO” explains the meticulous and hard-working mentality that has made them successful over the past years, and which they plan to apply to their new brewery. As they share the space with their printing business, Printed Specialties Inc, they also plan to share their core value which has remained a constant in their changing industry, “Commitment to Quality.”

When I first arrived at the their facility, I immediately sensed a feeling of excitement; a brand new brewery! They have new wooden tables outside with plenty of space, a stage area for music, they have set up some homegrown hop plants, and even have a small disc golf course. Inside the building, they have plastered the red brick walls with prints of their brewery and information about their family businesses. You can learn all about the printing business and its value adding implications applied to their brewing. The 20-barrel brewing system can be viewed with beer in hand, and if the first thing that you notice is the shiny brewing equipment, the next will be the room that they have to later expand! One of my favorite items to look for at any brewery is their amount of brewing experimentation and the system they use for small batches, and the pilot system found at Printer’s has to be one of the prettiest I’ve seen!

As I finished viewing the tour of the facility, I contemplated the potential that they had for growth, and how the facility seemed to be set up with that in mind. While growth and expansion is a great planning for new businesses, you have to have a solid product to get you there. After sampling the options that they had on draft, I give the thumbs up to this green business. They have all of the staples that you would expect (wheat beer, golden ale, amber ale, IPA, porter, DIPA, etc), and all of them seem to be on the mark. That being said, we see plenty of breweries with good beer; They will really need to have some that outshine other competitors and great distributing. For now, I will leave that up to PAMCO to handle, and I will have another beer. I look forward to seeing more from Printer's Ale Manufacturing Co.

My Rating:

Facility Rating
Location Rating
Beer Rating
Beer Notes
I wasn’t disappointed by any, and hope that they can develop one that stands out above the competition

Best Beer: Makeready Session IPA - This light beer was exactly what I needed on the hot summer day that I visited. Full of flavorful and aromatic hops, but light enough to handle in the heat of the day. The light, bready malt backbone made this one about as drinkable as they come.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

AJC Peachtree Road Race

I did start writing this post the day after this year’s Peachtree Road Race, however, my travels have delayed its completion. A month later, I think that it is just as informative. After my second experience attending and running in the race, I feel that I can provide a very basic description (or my experience at least) for any who need that push to decide whether or not they should give it a try. I will start off by saying that it is not my type of thing at all, and that on both of the occasions that I attended, it was basically against my will. That being the case, I still recommend trying it to say that you have, and for the experience. Over 60,000 people go every year, so the statistics show that I am the odd one out. So here it is - my experience of Atlanta’s Peachtree Road Race:

I woke up to my alarm at 5:15am. I continued to lie in bed refusing to acknowledge the light hearted tones coming from my cellphone, as I hoped that it was just part of dream that would somehow disappear. The sound of the alarm for which I had developed a small hatred, continued to grow more and more loud. I gave in. As I sat up and fumbled to unlock and turn off my phone, the feeling of dismay started to chime in; It’s a work holiday, I have to wake up at this unreasonable hour, and I have to go run a race in the heat of July with 60,000+ people… There could not have been a worse decision to make. I’m never doing this again.

Coffee, oatmeal, water, clothes; it was all a repetitive blur. I combined some light stretching with the coordinated efforts of pinning the race bib on my shirt, and tried to go through all of the items I needed to take with me. Kimberly and I had previously planned to take Marta (The Atlanta train transportation system), as it is about the only way to get to the race. I had my “Breeze card” with a few passes left, but we had to pick a new card up for Kimberly, so we needed to get there early. We parked at the Avondale Marta station at about 6:15am, and since our race waves both started at about 7:30am, we were making good time. It wasn’t long after we got down to the deck when the train arrived and we were luckily enough to catch the door right where we were standing, and quickly made our way to a seat. Sitting down, we watched the people pile in. Every single person had on their race bibs, and we enjoyed trying to pick out the earliest wave, and for a long time, I was winning with wave B!

We arrived at the Five Points station in Atlanta, the transfer station, and had to get off and move to the northbound redline train. We immediately discovered that this was going to be a challenge. There were so many people. When the train arrived, we tried to stay calm and move our way in. I overheard several people grumbling the phrase “packing in like sardines,” but in reality it was much more like a human canned cranberry sauce! There was no longer the existence of several people on these trains, it was just one giant mush of arms and leggs. Each person contorted to have at least one hand on a railing or seat or ceiling, which would also cause the rest of their body to be flat against the people next to them. I tried to focus on touching as few people as possible, to help distract me from all of my other offended senses. The humidity of the Atlanta air was further drowned in the warmth and moisture created by every person breathing in the tin box of a train car; If I could see to the nearest window, I’m sure that it would have been completely fogged over. Finally, the train began to chug along. The minutes lasted so long, but at least we were moving.  Soon, I knew we had to be close to our stop, and then suddenly, like something out of 90’s teen comedy, we jolted to a screeching stop.

[I’ll skip the gory details that followed, but the jist is that the train had been over filled, and people were forced up against the doors of the train, which triggers the train to stop. Since, I assume, no one was purposefully leaning on the doors to keep us there any longer, this means that people were forced up against the doors due to the shear volume of people on the train. You can see the dilemma. Eventually this was somehow resolved, and we continued on our way, however, the race had began on time, and we were still in the train. When we eventually arrived at our stop a quarter-mile away from the race starting line, it was about 8:10am, and we were now to wave F. I’m sure that it could have been worse, but from my perspective at the time, not by that much.]

Having arrived late to races in the past, I am somewhat experienced at stretching while on the run to the start line. Merging in with the other 60,000 people, I worked to turn my cellphone to Spotify and start my music, and then to alert Strava that my run was about to begin. Just as I strapped on my phone’s armband, I was pushed forward by all those around me and we were across the starting line. While my natural adrenaline began to kick in, I found myself tip-toeing forward like a ballet dance, trying not to step on all of the people in front of me. One toe forward, one to the right. One toe further to the right, one forward. It continued like this for at least the first full mile before I was able to take a half-step in any direction. I waited for my opportunity to sprint forward and release the anguish I was feeling of having to navigate person after person, and being held back against my will. This luxury never came.

As the mile markers passed, I was always aware of exactly how much further I had left to hit the finish line. 1 mile in, I’m sure that by mile 2 I will be able to sprint forward. Mile 2: I think that I see a straightaway on the left. Mile 3: There must be 50 people stopped at the upcoming water station, I can get free after that! At about mile 5, the 90 degree heat combined with the thousands of people around me, gave way, and forced me to a stop at the last water station. I realized then, that I was not going to be able to run. In that moment, I was angry, frustrated, tired, and then, possibly relieved. I looked around, and for almost the first time, I actually saw the happy, light-hearted, holiday event that was in front of me. I spent the last mile doing my best to run, but aware of the goings on around me. As I crossed the finish line, I smiled for the cameras, and somewhat understood why I was here. But now, I need water!

Due mainly in part to the stifled congestion that I was forced into, I did not enjoy the race; But from the perspective of those who don’t plan for an all out haul to the finish line, I can see the appeal. I describe now from my peripheral vision, obtained from the corners of my eyes while looking for spots to slide past the next person in front of me during the race. Had I decided to go for a light jog and enjoy the race, I would have acknowledged the hundreds to thousands of people who lined the sidewalks as well. Starting at the very beginning of the race, there were cheers of motivation, entertaining posters, costumes, and much more. Every 5 feet that I passed, there would be more people offering high fives, pizza slices, and even beer! While there was water provided at every mile passed, there were also jolly bystanders happy to provide everything from snacks to bloody marys. I counted at least a couple of bands set up with speakers, amplifiers, and intoxicated dancers. While heat is always a major issue on the 4th, there were a few opened fire hydrants along the way to which you could stand in or just run by to get a nice shower.

The craziness was not limited to the bystanders either; Racers were often found in full costume or body paint. Many wore the red, white, and blue, but others represented their own interesting attire. I saw everything from hotdog costumes, cross dressed clowns, and 2 man horses, to people fully covered in gold paint, superhero costumes, and people only wearing underwear. Several fireman, soldiers, and policeman in full uniform carried the American flag, and reminded us all of why we were there to begin with, and what we were celebrating that day. It’s really amazing to step back and think about what was taking place: People gathering for a large event, despite the difficulty that it causes. People running as fast as they can to finish, and those who walk just to enjoy the scenery. People from every state (except for 3 this year), and from dozens of countries. All of these people coming together in Atlanta, to appreciate our country, and celebrate with others. In the politically challenging year that we have had, the Peachtree Road Race was a great reminder that there are still good people here, with similar values, that care about and are willing to support each other.

Despite my being able to see the bright side through all of the rough patches that I felt in attending this event, I still left the race covered in sweat, yet not feeling like I had run in a race. It felt to me like a day at 6 Flags gone wrong; where you wait in all of the lines but find that there is no ride at the end. Did I mention that I’m aware of the fact that I am not in the majority here? I don’t like 6 Flags even with the rides. Take my experience for what you get out reading it, and not for my attitudes towards it. Even though it is not my cup of tea, I absolutely recommend everyone attend at least once for the unique experience. I’ll end by saying the exact same thing that I said after last year’s Peachtree Road Race: “Never again.” But you know how that ended...

AJC Peachtree Road Race 2017 - Ransome Sheets - Bib 5493 - Final Time: 46:58

Friday, June 23, 2017

Roswell has broken into the Brewing Scene

Gate City Brewing Co.

The 2 founders of Gate City Brewing Company come from other US states, but in the last decade have landed themselves as proud long-term Georgia residents. Naming the brewery after Atlanta’s well known label (gate city of the new south), they focus on accentuating everything “Georgia.” From the phoenix on their logo, to beer names like Terminus Porter and “1864,” there’s no doubt from out-of-towners as to where this brewery can be found.

Gate City Brewing is located in the heart of Roswell’s historic district in metro Atlanta. Surrounded by a vibrant region of new restaurants and bars, they have strategically placed themselves where no one will be able to miss them. If their giant logo doesn’t bring you in the front doors, then the excited crowds, live music, and food trucks might! While this big warehouse in the downtown area might struggle with the air conditioning this summer, they at least have a strong selection of highly drinkable and flavorful beer to help keep you cool. Several chairs, picnic tables, and a giant fan help to make you comfortable as you sip beer after delicious beer while listening to local musicians and enjoying the company of others.

My Rating:

DateFacility RatingLocation RatingBeer RatingBeer Notes

Best Beer: Terminus Porter - This porter has exploded since hitting the local taps around Georgia. It stands out from other porters with its old world hop flavors and lightly rich malts. It is strong without being heavy, and creates a complex and enjoyable palate.

Abbey of the Holy Goats Brewery

Have you ever found yourself contemplating what to do with your life? Has that ever lead you down 2 different paths? Were those 2 paths to either open a brewery or move to Maine and start a goat farm? Some of those questions may sound familiar, however, the 3rd is probably unique. This is the predicament in which Kathy Davis, founder of Abbey of the Holy Goats Brewery, found herself. I think that you can guess which decision won out. Using an award winning business plan, Kathy started this brewery with her passion of Belgian beers and all that goes into them. The all women brewing team and Kathy, focus on modernizing classic Belgian styles to hone in on the best of those styles and introduce them to the world. In my visit to the brewery, I found classic styles, such as a Belgian golden strong and a Belgian tripel, as well as more modern takes, like their Belgian Double IPA. While I enjoy visiting breweries with large selections to try, it’s a nice change of pace to visit one that focuses on quality rather than quantity.

The beer styles are not the only thing in this brewery that offer an abbey-like experience; Walking in the front door, you are immediately transported into the hall of a small monastery itself! In the middle of the room you will find a large central table for all to gather around. They have several different fun and interesting new games to be played, and a beautiful handmade beer list on the wall. Take the tour and learn more about some of their innovative practices, such as plastic kegs, and find out their most recent plans for expansion like their upcoming bottling line. As you try these enjoyable new beers, you’ll likely find yourself immersed in the makeshift abbey culture; give in to it, commune with your fellow man, and be inspired to appreciate the Beglian styles that have changed the world!

My Rating:

DateFacility RatingLocation RatingBeer RatingBeer Notes
2017546Breweries that a focus are worth 10 of those who try to do everything

Best Beer: The Goat's Obsession - Belgian Double IPA - While not for the faint of heart, this strongly hopped brew remains surprisingly drinkable, well balanced, and smooth. Much darker than your standard IPA, it has a sweet malt backbone that blends well with the floral hops and the bitter aftertaste. While you should probably only have one, my bet is that you order a second.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Arches Brewing

Found in Hapeville Georgia, just north of the airport, Arches Brewing is a great addition to the Atlanta brewery family. You must carefully follow your GPS or risk driving right past it; but once you park and walk in the doors, you’re instantly greeted, and you enjoy taking in the perfect combination of the historic looking design with modern features. With plenty of space to stand at the bar-style tables and drink the beer that you are now inexplicably holding, the taps remain as the centerpiece of this habitation, drawing your focus to the list that doesn’t quite read the same as the other GA breweries you have visited. Arches focuses on old world beer recipes with modern technology, and in doing so has established a niche within the craft brewing industry. You find many classic lagers similar to that of Germany and the reinheitsgebot driven beers and less of the hop-forward American styles that we are so used to seeing.

As you realize that your first beer has already disappeared and grab your next one, you will decide to travel further back into the building. The next stop on the pathway takes you right past some of the fermenters and you will get to enjoy taking in the beautiful new equipment that they have prepared themselves with. Since you will surely be back for the next brewery tour that they offer, keep on moving to the back patio area which contains a wide array of games including giant jenga and several corn-hole  boards. I’m not sure if it is an ongoing offering, but when I visited they also offered BBQ and other food, which perfectly mixes with the old world brews. Finding the shade, they also have a number of picnic tables to lounge on while enjoying the rest of their beer samples.

Now that you have experienced the virtual tour, hopefully you have been persuaded to spend your next free night at this location. Arches Brewing lands near the top of my personal lists in the beer brewing category, for the main reason that they are slightly unique and I can find beer that I won’t likely find elsewhere. If you have a certain beer style that you expect to try, make sure you check the European brewing calendar (or their website), as many of their seasonals come and go along with the seasons. Don’t worry too much, my bet is that if you don’t prepare at all, you’re still likely to find a new awesome beer that makes the top of your list also!

My Rating:

Facility Rating
Location Rating
Beer Rating
Beer Notes
4 (It’s in Atlanta, but not really a good part)
Old world style with a modern take

Best Beer: Mystik Bock - This beer is a seasonal that is only around in certain months, and is one of those that I mentioned you might plan ahead for. Enjoy the toasty caramel malt flavor which is moderately rich but balanced with light hop bitterness. At 7.5%, this one stands out for it’s extreme drinkability despite the high ABV. It would be much too easy to drink way too many...

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Adventure Post: Running a Marathon Part 3

Running a Marathon: Part 3

The 3rd and final section of this post is one the hardest to describe in a useful way, but shares in great detail my pre-race preparations, the experience of my first marathon race, and the after-effects that I endured. While preparing for my race, I looked for blogs and posts like this one, as I enjoyed reading about other's experiences so that I could better determine things that I may face when going into this myself. I was able to fine-tune other's experiences to myself, and determine based on my prior runs what I was likely to expect and what I may not yet be expecting. That being said, I was still completely unprepared when it came to the actual race, so keep that in mind! Whether useful or not, this is likely the most interesting section to read; Without more wasted time, see what I have shared below in Part 3:

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Adventure Post: Running a Marathon Part 2

Running a Marathon: Part 2

Part 2 of Running a Marathon consists of flexibility, and my personal training experience. Both sections share just a few of the areas that I learned in my training process that I can describe. While there is much more that I could include, I have limited these sections for readability! Hopefully you will find it enjoyable or maybe even helpful...!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Adventure Post: Running a Marathon

Running a Marathon: Part 1

Since training for and completing a marathon, I have heard all of the comments that you or your friends are probably saying right now, so let’s get them out of the way:

“Why would you do that?”
“That sounds awful.”
“Couldn’t you get to your destination faster if you drive.”
“You have fun with that; I’ll be at the bar.”
“I don’t like running.”
“Doesn’t it hurt after a while?”
“I like to run, but I get bored.”
“You have to pay to run?”
“What do you get for doing it?”
“How long is a marathon? I’v done a 5k before.”
“My thighs scrape against each other when I run.”
And my favorite,

…“I don’t think that I could do the swimming portion.”

I could spend a large portion of this discussion telling you all of the reasons why you should train for a marathon, why it adds value to your life and your mind, and how it changes you in the process, blah, blah, blah… Honestly, you don’t care that much, and it would be a waste of time for me to try and convince anyone. Either you choose to do it for your own reasons, or you choose not to. What I will provide, is a step by step process of how I trained for my first marathon, my suggestions based on my research (and the research of others), and my personal experiences throughout. Whether you’re considering running a marathon, a half-marathon, or even if you know you will never want to try, I would recommend enjoying my written experience for the value of entertainment at the least!

I’ll be providing a 3 part series that includes all of this and more, so I hope that it you will benefit from my experience and enjoy the upcoming posts!

  1. Getting started
    1. What you need
    2. Setting your goals
    3. What you need to know
  1. Training
    1. Flexibility
    2. My experience
  1. Game day
    1. Prep
    2. The race
    3. The after-effects