The mercury has cracked the 90 degree barrier now, and summer has surely settled in. Thus, it is only natural that Georgia's non-conformist breweries are going the opposite direction of the bigger breweries, swimming upstream if you will, and rolling out two of their biggest beers from the past. Sweetwater Brewing Company is re-introducing its popular Donkey Punch Barleywine, a sweet, hop-heavy alcohol bomb that packs 10.2 percent ABV and over 140 IBUs (International Bittering Units), as the latest in its Dank Tank series. Meanwhile, up GA 316 in Athens, Terrapin Beer Company's third Side Project, Gamma Ray wheatwine, an 11% ABV monster brewed with 1,500 lbs of Tupelo and Sourwood honey from Savannah Bee Company, is replacing the All-American Imperial Pilsner as the new summer seasonal in its Monster Beer Series. Looks like summer is getting a little hotter.
Sweetwater's 50-bbl Dank Tank is dedicated to experimental "dark side" brews, with the first release being a Belgian-style IPA that came out in December of last year. A Scotch ale and a double IPA followed. Thus far, these limited batches have only been available in kegs at select bars around Georgia and at the brewery and special events. However, this latest release will be the first Sweetwater beer to be bottled on its new 22-oz "bomber" bottling line, making it available at better package stores, which is good news, indeed.
Donkey Punch was introduced in the latter part of 2007 and followed the Festive Ale and Happy Ending Stout as one of a few high-gravity offerings from the largest craft brewer in Georgia. Don't expect to see the words "Donkey Punch" on the label, though. The beer is being called DP Barleywine, indicating that the Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) got wind of the meaning of the term Donkey Punch, a brutal sex act, and made Sweetwater change the name to the innocuous "DP," which clearly has no such associations [cough]. Look to experience your first DP the week of June 22. Future planned Dank Tank releases for this year include a big blueberry wheat, a wet hop ale, and a milk stout.
Terrapin Beer Company first brought out its Gamma Ray Wheatwine in October 2008. It made my Top 10 list last year and it would appear a few others, as Spike and John have decided to replace the oft-maligned Imperial Pilsner (I admit I was a maligner) with the Gamma Ray in its seasonal Monster Beer Tour. To my mind, this makes the Monster series one of the best seasonal lineups in the country. Apparently there have been some TTB issues with the Gamma Ray label (good God! Can someone have Barack issue an executive order to these guys to get a sense of humor?), so it looks like the summer will be half over by the time the Gamma Ray is in stores, but it is worth the wait. Until then, you can still find the spring Monster Beer release, Rye Squared, around town.
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