We're going to grab some balls!

(Okay, maybe I should have rethought that title.)  Artsy Guy here.  Howdy, Nation!  For those of you in or near NYC, Saturday April 7 will bring quite the amazing event: Beer Balls!  Some of our favorite folks in the NYC craft beer scene are the peeps at GetReal NYC, and they're giving us yea one more reason to love them.  This event will combine some of the best craft beer from here and abroad with every kind of meatball imaginable from many an NYC chef.  Session admission brings unlimited servings of both.  What??  Yes!!

And right now, there is an amazing deal cookin' over at Thrillist, good through March 27.  Click on over there for an early bird discount on the various admission packages.  So grab your package.  Then grab NYC by the balls!  That's what's HOPpenin', y'all!

NYC American Craft Beer Fest ONE WEEK AWAY!!

Greetings, Nation!  Artsy Guy here.  I'm getting excited.  In just one week, the inaugural NYC American Craft Beer Festival hits the Big Apple.  Saturday, March 3rd, 2012!  Do you have your tickets?The Lexington Armory will be the place to be on Saturday, March 3rd!

Get your tickets now.  You'll save if you buy in advance.  Two sessions (1:30-4, 7-9:30) will find you sampling some of the best crafty suds this country has to offer.  Each session will be preceeded by a VIP/Connoisseurs Hour, and details to these magical entrance packages are available on the site.

And once again, I ask... Do you have your tickets?  The Happy Hour Guys will be there, keeping all y'all posted about the happenin' happenings.  We hope to see you there!  THAT'S what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Artsy in Cali: The Stuffed Sandwich

An oasis on Las Tunas Road.Howdy Nation!  Artsy Guy here posting from sunny Southern California.  Before there was a craft beer "scene" in the greater LA area, there was Sam and Marlene and The Stuffed Sandwich.  The place is not a beer bar or a beer store but it truly is a haven for beer lovers.

In order to get to the beer, you have to buy food (due to stipulations of their liquor license).  They offer sandwiches of all sorts, spaghetti, ribs, and salads.  On this visit, I enjoyed a delicious, super-buttery grilled cheese with deli pickle on the side.

And then... Oh the beer!  Sam has gathered a truly inspired bottle list from all over the world including plenty of US craft.  I was particularly taken with the list of various vintages of Stone anniversary, vertical epic, and collaboration brews.  And there are nine taps which follow a different theme each month: a specific brewery or beer style or region.  February's theme is barleywines, so my sampler included such treasures as Firestone Abacus, Rogue XS Old Crustacean, Victory Old Horizontal 2010, and North Coast Old Stock 2009.  My sampler came with instructions on how best to enjoy the experience, showing a true affinity for the amazing art form of craft brewing.

Sam is a legend in the LA beer community.  He has earned the title "Beer Nazi" which is a term of endearment from the multitudes who are of like mind... and a warning to those who are found to be inconsiderate or otherwise unruly or – God forbid – attempt to order a Miller Light.  He pours his brews with pride and deep knowledge (and his personal beer cellar is supposedly vast).  Sadly, though, he has been under the weather for some time and is currently in a rehab facility as he slowly improves.  The Happy Hour Guys send our best wishes to him as he recovers and to Marlene as she handily holds down the fort.  Sam and Marlene and The Stuffed Sandwich.  That's what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Artsy goes Rogue.

Rogue Nation Headquarters.Artsy Guy here hollerin' from the Central Oregon Coast.  A few weeks back, I happily wrote about the crafty brewers closest to my hometown, Ninkasi.  Since I'm back in the 'hood for the holidays, I thought I'd feature another "hometown" favorite, the award-winning Rogue Brewery in Newport, Oregon.  The Rogue World Headquarters sprawl out on the south side of Yaquina Bay, under the bridge.  I dropped into their pub, Brewers On the Bay, for a bite.

As the craft world has evolved, a few of their brews' names have evolved as well (i.e. Brutal Bitter was renamed Brutal IPA) and their ubiquitous Dead Guy Ale has undergone a few happy variations earning new names along the way.  But where Rogue seems to be flourishing is in its more experimental areas.  On this visit, I tasted their "John John" variations (barrel aged and otherwise) of a few old favorites.  My favorite of this tasting was the John John Hazelnut Brown Nectar aged in rum cask.  Yes!  In the midst of the recent hop shortage scare, Rogue bought the farm.  Literally... they bought a farm and raised their own hops and grains, and the result has been the lovely Chatoe Rogue line.  Rogue is also well-esconced in the craft spirits movement, winning awards for their juniper gin and rums.

Note: If you're a dude, you're "hops." The ladies are "malts." I don't really get it either.There's a lot going on under the jurisdiction of the Rogue Nation: brewpubs all over the west coast and distribution all over the world.  And they have a motto I really dig: Dare, Risk, Dream.  That's what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Artsy in Seattle!

Hello, Nation!  Artsy Guy here reporting from the great Pacific Northwest... aka the corner of the country that brought you the Artsy Guy.  I grew up in Oregon and get back as often as possible to my fine homestate as well as the one just to the north to see family and breathe in the air and the vibe.

Georgetown Brewing!While in Seattle, I decided to seek out what was new and crafty in the city, and after seeing local brew Georgetown Brewing's Manny's Pale Ale absolutely everywhere around town (and seeing that the brewery was voted Seattle Magazine's 2011 Readers' Choice Best Local Microbrew) I headed to where the beer is born.

Georgetown Brewing has quite a lineup, as proudly offered to me by Harlow and team.  Of course, there's Manny's Pale, the flagship brew, which is very nice.  But there's so much more to Georgetown.  Being the hophead I am, I was especially drawn to the fantastic Lucille's IPA and especially a couple of red ales:  Chopper's Red has a sweet malt backbone but brings on the hops due to a lot of Centennial added late; and SuperChopp, brewed just part of the year, is an imperial version, getting it's great hop profile from some improvisation with locally grown hops a couple years back during the hop shortage.  And there's more.  I'd suggest hitting this place.  They are a tap-only facility.  You can find their brews all over Seattle or you can acquire kegs and growlers for incredibly reasonable prices at the brewery.  Well done, Georgetown!

The lineup and the Roger's Pils.After grabbing the spicy meatloaf and Marionberry salad nearby at Jules Maes Saloon (one of the oldest bars in Seattle) and pairing it with Georgetown's Lucille's IPA, I moseyed a few doors down to Full Throttle Bottles.  There, I got recommendations from the staff for some great local bottles for the road.  I'll post my finds and thoughts once I've had the chance to taste.

Jules Maes Saloon ("since 1888") and Full Throttle Bottles.As a final thought, I think back to Georgetown's tasting room and a fellow I chatted with there.  Greg had just returned from a trip to NY, and after telling me of some of the beer he had tasted there, he proclaimed that his Georgetown brews were definitely better.  Of course my first thought was to represent for my own current home (NY, for those new to this blog), but then I thought twice of trying to argue.  One of the beautiful things about the ever-evolving craft beer scene is that nothing can truly compare to that taste of home and the community you find there.  Craft brewers are popping up everywhere.  I have my favorite brews in the Pacific Northwest and in Southern California and the Midwest and New York.  Each is connected to friends and family and time spent telling stories and catching up and sharing laughs.

So while I'd always recommend experiencing the variety of the crafty world and seeking out what's brewed wherever you roam, take pride in and support the good stuff made by your friends and neighbors.  It's good for them and the economy.  And it's good for you.  That's what's HOPpenin', y'all!

Artsy's Backyard: William Hallett.

William Hallett.Artsy Guy here, on a break from the desk on a drippy day in Astoria. Pretty recently, my 'hood was graced with a gem of a gastropub: William Hallett. Named for a pioneer of these parts, this place is also blazing trails in the way of comfort food: the turducken sandwich and foie gras sliders give just a hint at what awaits.  This evening, I opted for their brilliant mac and cheese and side of the bacon brussels sprouts.

The wine list is varied and interesting, and there's a full bar.  But of course the beer taps are what catch my eye, and the regular selection here includes Founders Centennial IPA, Stone Smoked Porter, Coney Island, Kelso, Sly Fox, and more.  Yes and yes.

So, if you're in Astoria, Queens, in the NYC, get thee to William Hallett.  They're open late with an after hours menu until 2am.  That's what's HOPpenin!

Artsy's Backyard: On Tap at Whole Foods Columbus Circle

On Tap at Whole Foods Columbus Circle.Artsy Guy here!  As you can see, I've been saving up some posts.  The schedule has been nuts!  But I wanted to be sure to let y'all know about a few recent adventures.  Most recently, I found myself at Whole Foods at Columbus Circle.  The Whole Foods chain had already established itself as a great resource for craft beer lovers, filling growlers and stocking great stuff.  And the beer room at Whole Foods at the Bowery is craft nirvana.  But Columbus Circle stepped up the game recently by opening On Tap, where you can buy bottles, fill growlers, and sit down with a pint and some nosh.

The focus of the beer is primarily local, and the food is fantastic snacky fare with emphasis on local incredients as well.  This store gets crowded so, at certain times, the communal tables might be impermeable, but if you can swing by in a quieter hour the rewards will be yours.  That's what's HOPpenin' y'all!