Rollin' Golden Pub - 2018

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As I sum another year of tastings, I’m faced with the question of why I bother at all.  There’s an app for that, Untappd.  I can sort by the date, the ranking I gave it, the style of beer, and even the packaging (draft, bottle, can, crowler).  And, I can sort by our imbibing location, namely the Rolling (sic) Golden Pub, which I have not bothered to do so until now. 

Of the pub’s 247 beer check-ins, all but 8 of them are mine.  I’m somewhat possessive of the RGP location, and I’m a little thrown off by this.  All of the check-ins should be mine.  I’m going to imagine that the five gentlemen involved were staying in a nearby motel and chose the location of the RGP as a funny option to checking in at the hotel and/or as a lark when drinking themselves to sleep with a heavy dose of reality show du jour.  I’m amused by that.  But I’m not amused that Nathan V. checked in a Rolling Rock Extra Pale or that Cliff Y. checked in a Best Damn Root Beer (with comment “yum yum yum”).  Sacrilege.  The RGP prides itself on quality beer, and they’re disrespecting the pub!  It’s not that I’m a beer snob.  We’re all beer snobs, all four members of the RGP!  It’s ours.

And that’s partially why I bother.  Braggart. Archivist. Obsessive-compulsive. Bored.  Eh, I do what needs to be done.  But it’s also an opportunity to reflect.  Working in whatever your occupation may be, imagine that, facing a deadline, email overload or (insert stressor here), you know that soon you’ll be getting together immediately after work with some coworkers and enjoying cool, quality beer.  Just the patient anticipation takes the edge off the daily toils.  And we’re killin’ it! (click the logo image above to see the list).

2018 metrics: 25% increase in Pub visits!  12.5% increase in beers consumed! And our highest ever Beer Advocate ratings average of 4.42 which hovers between Outstanding and World Class.  RateBeer ratings – yeah, we did well, but it never differentiated its ratings well and it’s further marginalized by a partial InBev stake.  Still, we had 81 beers that beer snobs anywhere would love to have, and many required travels and trades to be featured at the Pub.

Several years ago, the RGP Bylaws were established.  Wisely.  While the 72 oz. “serving” cap was implemented, it has proven effective for both safe driving afterwards and an unhurried pacing for our hour long share.  And, if we do not strictly hold to the limit of the law, it’s fair to say that it’s much like speeding in a vehicle, only, you’re the law. 

That’s important, because we increased from an average of 8.53% ABV in 2017 to 9.1% in 2018.  Why?  Stouts.  They don’t mess around, and they keep showing up.

It’s also fair to reflect on the growth of the craft brewing industry and the constant introduction of new beers.  At the close of 2017, we had enjoyed 18 beers ranked #1 in their State by Beer Advocate.  At the close of 2018, we’re now at… 22!   They include: Prairie Artisan Ales Bourbon Paradise (OK), Founders CBS (no longer a rarity from MI), and Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Coffee Stout (IL).  Interestingly, our fourth #1 comes from a 2015 tasting, as Ivan the Terrible Imperial Stout conquered its foes to rise from #4 in Montana to #1.

As the methodology for keeping count of #1 beers is not included in the Bylaws, it seems appropriate to allow that the heretofore consideration of "at the time of consumption” be modified to include “unless it grew to a #1 position.”   This is advantageous on two fronts:  1) Beer ratings are not like Billboard Magazine; there is no static reference point to document to ratings at a given time and 2) If we did limit it to current rankings, then our collective total for #1 beers in 2018 would be… nine (9).
That’s the state we’re in, where:  1) Beer Advocate has largely displaced by Untappd due ease/convenience of a smart phone app, resulting in many current #1 beers having only a relative handful of beers, 2) Where some tend to overrate product from their favorite and/or local brewery, 3) the sheer number of beers that get introduced to the market each week, and 4) some beers are retired and removed from the rankings. 

What is left unstated here are the memories and good times of each tasting, and those are reserved exclusively for the members of the RGP.

Oh, and thank you, Knotty Pretzels, for being there!

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Steven Wilson–Live at Variety Playhouse

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I looked at Steven Wilson’s tour schedule last year, following the release of his fairly awesome To the Bone CD, and was disappointed that he followed that with an extensive tour to Europe and elsewhere.  I get that fans deserve the opportunity to see him wherever they might be, but I harbor some resentment when his touring plans don’t include me.  Patience.  A benefit of living in Atlanta is that he reliably gets here, having played following his last two releases.  Even better, this show was at Variety Playhouse, my favorite local venue, where sound, lights, sight lines, and local pre-concert options all add up to a great evening.


The show began with a short video which perhaps sums living in the age of #fakenews, #imavictimof(insertoppressorhere) and #hearmeroaronsocialmedia.  It began with an innocent enough piano track as various photos were presented with what most would agree are apt words to describe them: truth, family, science, fact, news, compassion, love, information, sincere, security, happiness, father, life, lie, enemy, religion, fiction, fake, indifference, hate, disinformation, ego, threat, grief, oppression, death.  This would be an interesting group discussion, figuring out how individual perspectives agree or disagree with the associations of word to pictures.


But there was more, again leading with “truth.”  Same images, same words, but rearranged to form new associations to test how we associate the words to the images.  The associations that may have represented freedom, move towards to totalitarianism.  A photo of a surveillance camera moves from “security” to “oppression.”  The video begins with a sort of schmaltzy piano tune, but as the video moves along, it fades and is replaced by bass tones provide a suitable undercurrent to the third rearrangement, where the point may be that there are different truths.  We feel that in the political world through our particular opinions and filters.  That said, as you get into the third round, there is a sense of brainwashing, but maybe you get the point.


The band enters, and it’s a relief to give up the initial challenge.  Wilson has a talented band, and they play the type of music I like - progressive rock, often with a harder edge, including instrumentals that reveal the artistry of the musicians without yielding to conceit.  Just as with the video, Wilson’s music is consistently thoughtful, though rarely optimistic.


Wilson played seven of 11 songs from his last CD, and while these were all good or better, I was disappointed that he did not include “People Who Eat Darkness.”  Sure, it’s strangely titled, but I don’t know of anyone else who writes about the everyday life of a terrorist, going about the rituals of living before ending lives.


Each of Wilson’s solo albums has a general feel about it, but the set list really pulled all of his work together as a seamless whole, including a generous helping of songs from his Porcupine Tree days.  Wilson announced this to be a three hour show, less a 20 minute intermission, and it was close to that.  The set featured 20 songs, only one of which might be considered “short,” that being his only nod to pop songs thus far, “Permanating.”  So, let’s just say an average of 7 minutes each. 


On his “The Incident” tour, Wilson was fairly controlling - no cameras, more of a listening room experience.  Beginning with Hand. Cannot. Erase., he’s desired venues without seating for the energy.  My observation is that his shows are longer, and while standing for over three hours is taxing as I age, it’s still incredibly worth it.


An early highlight included “Pariah,” accompanied virtually by Ninet Tayeb, whose voice complements Wilson wherever she shows up, to the point that it would be interesting to hear him rework many of his past songs to give her a regular voice... and justify bringing her along on tour.


There were no weak points, and much of the set list I bring to the gym for both the energy and artistry.   “Refuge,” “Detonation,” “Lazarus,” “The Sound of Muzak,” a thundering “Ancestral” - they come and go and leave you waiting for the next song.  There’s abundant artistry on the stage, and it’s hard to imagine anyone not liking Wilson’s music - if they ventured beyond a classic rock diet to see what else might be out there.


I watched from a couple different positions, and I have to say bassist Nick Beggs is a wonder to watch, whether on a traditional bass or the Stick.  While the more recently acquired guitarist Alex Hutchings aced his role, I think Beggs has made more of his role, generally out-hustling the guitar theatrics from song to song.   Wilson calls the shots, but obviously he’s let Beggs do it his way. 


Drummer Craig Blundell also impressed, and though his kit was expansive, everything was obviously in its right place.  He easily intermixed a forceful or deft touch as each song required.  To that end, Wilson recalled playing in Japan several weeks ago where the audience clapped heartily but absent any sense of timing.  This became a game of sorts, with Wilson’s encouragement, to unsettle the drummer by clapping off-beat without any synchronization. 


For his part, Wilson was front and center with a practiced confidence from touring for decades.  To his credit, he took the time to chat with the audience, which aside from being entertaining, moves a concert from “being in audience” to something more personal, regardless whether spontaneous or not. 


To close with “The Raven Who Refused to Sing” is probably his best option for a closer, slowing things a bit and featuring a dynamite graphical interpretation of the song.  Still, this was the third consecutive show in Atlanta closed that way... maybe it’s time for “Trains.”



  • Nowhere Now – To the Bone
  • Pariah – To the Bone
  • Home Invasion – Hand. Cannot. Erase.
  • Regret #9 – Hand. Cannot. Erase.
  • The Creator has a Mastertape – In Absentia
  • Refuge – To the Bone
  • The Same Asylum as Before – To the Bone
  • Ancestral – Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Second set:

  • Arriving Somewhere but Not Here - Deadwing
  • Permanating – To the Bone
  • Song of I – To the Bone
  • Lazarus - Deadwing
  • Detonation – To the Bone
  • Heartattack in a Layby – In Absentia
  • Vermillioncore – 4 ½
  • Sleep Together – Fear of a Blank Planet


  • Blackfield – Blackfield
  • Sign of the Times – Prince cover
  • The Sound of Muzak – In Absentia
  • The Raven that Refused to Sing – The Raven that Refused to Sing

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Delta Rae Revival–Live at The Basement

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A vacation day to burn and a $10 ticket to see one of my favorite bands led me to make the trip from Atlanta to Nashville with, as expected, no regrets.  Delta Rae is performing a 16 week “residency” at The Basement, an internet-described “dive bar,” that is a basement and, if it were absent the the transformation into Delta Rae’s “revival church,” it most certainly would look like a dive basement.


I was fortunate to come across Grant Emerson, the band’s bassist, for a short conversation.  Nothing revelatory, really, but how often do you get to chat with a member of a favorite band?  The band has essentially relocated to Nashville from Durham, NC, which makes sense for access to all the talent, publishers, studios, etc. that are available.  We also touched on their new classification as a country act, which probably makes marketing and economic sense, and Emerson pointed out that they’re not singing the stereotypical country lyrics.  And, sadly, there was no hint of an album.

Do albums matter anymore?  The band keeps releasing singles and EPs, so I guess they add to the same, but I’m a traditionalist.  In any case, if the remainder of the band shares Grant’s general humility and positivity, they should stay together for quite a while.  How they can afford to do so for $10 a ticket, is another question, especially in a spot where maybe 100 people can uncomfortably stand, and where the band could easily ask double that without a second thought.   That second thought should have led to even a higher price for this type of experience. 

A Delta Rae concert doesn’t normally have a venue factor involved, other than sightlines and sound quality.  The Basement, with a sellout crowd, is poor for seeing the artist, great audibly when the artist is acoustic or low volume, and less impressive when a band pumps the volume, as Delta Rae did… or maybe it’s the additive effect of seven musicians on the stage. 

In any case, the band converted the basement to a chapel of sorts, with faux stained glass windows, a candelabrum, several lanterns hanging from the ceiling, and a vicar warning of certain judgment.  This plays well into a ghost story written by the mother of several of the band members, and their own account that their audience frequently mention that they’ve been “taken to church” following one of their concerts, which is fitting.  They’re really, really good. 


Here’s just an intro to the ghost story, accentuated by fishing line to tug on the overhead lanterns…

In December 1715, a small congregation was founded in the woods outside of Durham, North Carolina.  They built a white shotgun chapel and practiced their rituals fervently.  A year after its founding, this tiny community was swept with a paranoia over witchcraft.  They accused a young widow living alone in the unincorporated lands outside their village of practicing dark magic and a contingent of men and women from the chapel leadership were charged with bringing her in to face trial and judgment before the church.

The rest can be read on their Twitter dated 11/29/2018, if you’re so willing.  And then we have the recurring recital between the opening acts… it’s kind of campy, but it worked, as well as leading the way to a splashy entrance for the band’s ladies, appearing from the light, so to speak.


Above and below you can see the windows, which initially show the four singing members of the band.  As the concert progresses, video is included as well – an unexpected visual treat for, well, a basement.


This was my fourth time seeing the band – the first just after the release of “Carry the Fire,” when they introduced each song in depth and blew away the audience.  The second was when they passed through Atlanta basically on their way from one place to another, and an impressive concert at Atlanta’s also-small Eddie’s Attic.  Their showmanship has advanced year after year, increasingly featuring the band’s two female singers, Brittany Holljes and Liz Hopkins, who complement each other perfectly.



I can’t find a setlist, but their early songs “Bottom of the River,” “Morning Comes,” “If I Loved You,” and “Dance in the Graveyards” continue to define the best tendencies of the band – crafted lyrics, adventurous musical stylings, and a powerhouse delivery when the singers come together.


From their second album, “Outlaws,” “I Will Never Die,” and I think “Scared” and “Run” were covered, which pretty well fit the thematic aspect to the ghost story.  The band is no stranger to singing for a cause, and also included “Dirty Work,” a plea for people to get out and vote.  It’s a good song for the purpose, but it’s a unicorn stylistically to their other work and didn’t fit as well unless… you consider the “year of the woman” and the caliber of the evening’s supporting acts. 

Chloe Gilligan opened, endearing in the way she introduced her songs and seemingly lives on the edge of cracking herself up.  “San Francisco” was really good.  Elise Hayes was more polished, “but” her songs were probably better appreciated by those more in touch with their feelings.  And for a couple of songs, Delta Rae was joined by Maddie Rose, who had an excellent voice.  Later listens on the internet have piqued my interest – she’s really good, sort of soulful country.  I’m fairly certain “Pull You Through” was one of the songs she sang from her new album.


Overall, it was an awesome evening, and reinforces what everybody says that I’ve taken to see them live – they deserve a bigger stage.  Maybe they’ll catch that break to get there soon, but until then, the $10 tickets are a steal, and I’d hate to have to watch them from an upper deck in a colosseum anyway.

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Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

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A fairly last minute inquiry from a co-worker happily fit in with a mostly-on-vacation Thanksgiving week for a return to Atlanta’s Tabernacle for an evening of rock and roll, Led Zeppelin style.  There are a number of bands that mimic the 70’s greats, like Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Grateful Dead and others.  Some have permission, sets and costumes and the like from the original bands; others make it on their own.  Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience (inelegantly abbreviated as JBLZE for merchandising) is a bit different in that it features the son of Led Zeppelin’s drummer, John Bonham, who played twice with the other members of the band for their rare reunions.  That connection probably draws some in to see the band, like us, but at the end of the day, the music has to count.


The crowd was, expectedly, largely male and generally 50+ in age.  That said, the attendees wore surprisingly few black T-shirts of band names and tours, and in the upper reaches of the venue, most were inclined to keep their seats through most of the show.   The band entered about 8:30 absent an opening act and launched into “Rock and Roll,” a straightforward radio-friendly rocker from their most popular album, Led Zep IV.  In short, it is a good warm up to set the mood and expectations.  One song in, the band established their pieces well: drums, bass, lead guitar and vocals, the last being probably the most critical for the Led Zep sound.


Bonham found singer James Dylan on YouTube doing Zeppelin covers, and years later, he remains a very credible vocalist hitting the nuances and strength of Robert Plant’s delivery, foregoing the stage poses of the latter.  And, I’m not sure how I feel about that because they are a cover band, and it’s not really a Led Zep “experience” if the band isn’t seriously trying to recreate the nuances of the performance.  That said, that he is able to maintain the vocal strain of singing these songs is remarkable and did a fine job throughout the evening.


As for the visual mimicry, not to worry.  There’s Jimmy Sakurai, doing the Jimmy Page thing, with the hair, costume, the trademark leaning posture, the fancy footwork and the guitar licks.  And the smile.  And the rarely observed double neck guitar. 


Highlights for me included the “acoustic” section, including “Hey Hey What Can I Do” and “Going to California,” and the blues covers including “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and particularly “Since I’ve Been Loving You” which featured some of Sakurai’s best guitar work.  He was solid throughout, doing whatever the music dictated - the chords, the fill-ins, the jazzy section of “The Rain Song” and even the sloppiness of some of Page’s longer solos, particularly his live ones.  Regarding that, it might have been interesting to Sakurai clean a several of these up as he obviously has the talent.


Bonham took the lead in speaking to the audience between every few songs.  When a “name” is a major player in a buying/listening decision, it’s a smart move to engage the audience.  He clearly loves the music, the memories and the legacy, and he masters his kit.  The thundering drums of “Kashmir” were a joy live, as were the keyboards that atypically dominate a Led Zep song.  To that end, my evening would have been complete had “No Quarter” been a part of it, but there’s so many songs to choose from, and the band mixes up the lineup from night to night.


The main set concluded with the unavoidable but enjoyable “Stairway to Heaven,” one of many spontaneous or invited sing-alongs during the evening.  Truth be told, I never deciphered the lyrics to many of their songs.  Plant’s voice as an ingredient in the sonic mix suits me well enough when the lyrics don’t exactly add to much.   The band returned after a brief break to finish off a great combo of “Immigrant Song” and, by Led Zep standards, a restrained rendition of Whole Lotta Love.

Scroll to the bottom for the setlist.

As for a few aggravations, there was a time that the Tabernacle was general admission throughout.  It makes sense that economic demand and an optimal business model would end that policy, allowing general admission for the floor area (standing only) and higher prices for the seats in the balconies.  Other than the VIP “best of” seating, all the other seats were the same price, regardless of location.  So, here’s the view from Row G, literally the top row in the theater, as remarkable for it’s viewing “window” as its elevated temperature.


This not a widescreen photograph.  The lower half shows the highlighted heads of those in lower rows, and the black at the top is an inclined ceiling that cuts off the view of the backdrop.  There are video monitors at either side in the photo, which are unhelpfully sized and feature a fixed view of the stage, I.e., there is no camera operator zooming in for a better view. 

Also, while the light show capability of the Tabernacle is as good as anyone’s, those colorful lights that backlight the stage for those on the floor too frequently come to rest at the upper tier, right where we were.  It is what it is, but the seats shouldn’t cost more than general admission, and they should arguably cost less because the sound is diminished both in volume and range.  No ear plugs required, on this night anyway.

Peccadillo #2: 

You’re going to a concert.  You have to accept that people will enjoy their experience the way they want to, like standing to dance for certain songs.  Okay.  But there’s this guy.  It was a cool evening, but that’s not a hat worn for warmth.  It’s an evening concert.  There’s no risk of sunburn.  So, it’s about looking “cool.”  Alright.  Take “cool” to the next level and take your hat off when you find your seat.  No one will be checking you out at that point. 


Then there’s being so into yourself that you’re being rude, like the guy next to me.  You want to video a song with your phone, that’s fine and very common.  I take pictures and try not to be too intrusive for others’ experience.  That said, don’t playback a full minute of it while the artist is talking to the audience – you’re stealing a moment from those around you, and you’re not getting the most out of your own experience.  And, don’t play what you’ve recorded when the band is playing, either, especially when it’s louder than the band.  Does your buddy really want to hear you brag about your video when the band he’s listening to them play live? 

Probably not.  And maybe that’s why you called some other person several times, telling them about the concert while you’re watching it, with real insights like, “the keyboard player stood up and started playing a second acoustic guitar.  That’s so cool!”  Really?  I’m sure whoever it was enjoyed your sing-along as you held the phone towards the stage as well.

Ah well, rant over.  It’s amazing the things that come to mind when you recall your concert experience. 

Other photos: 

The merchandise basement – nice relaxing area, and you can hear the muted concert if you want to lounge around or your legs are getting tired from standing… or, say, you want to call someone or watch your just-recorded concert video.


View from the 3rd balcony walkway (seats are higher).  Sections 200 and 300 are fine, folks.  Ignore the 400’s, for future reference, or, at least know what you’re getting.



  • · Rock and Roll
  • · Celebration Day
  • · Bring it On Home
  • · Black Dog
  • · Over the Hills and Far Away
  • · Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You
  • · Ramble On
  • · In My Time of Dying
  • · The Song Remains the Same
  • · The Rain Song
  • · The Ocean
  • · Thank You
  • · Hey Hey What Can I Do
  • · Going to California
  • · Since I’ve Been Loving You
  • · Good Times Bad Times
  • · Misty Mountain Hop
  • · Kashmir
  • · Stairway to Heaven


  • · Immigrant Song
  • · Whole Lotta Love

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Netflix Daredevil, Season 3

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Just finished Season 3 of Daredevil, my being a comic book guy all those years ago and living the dream since CGI could keep pace. This was the best of all of the Nextflix Marvel episodes, I think, in no small part to the portray of the villain, Kingpin. The thing about comics was that they captured the struggle between good and evil, right and wrong, and in their way, pointed towards a true north. The good guys may be flawed, but aren't we all?

A quote from a closing scene as Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil, takes stock on himself, from the words that a priest had shared with him in his youth.

"I was pretty angry towards God and pretty bitter towards his world. How could a loving God blind me? Why? Anyway, [he said] God's plan is like a beautiful tapestry, and the tragedy of being human is that we only get to see it from the back, with all the ragged threads and the muddy colors. We only get a hint at the true beauty of what would be revealed if we could see the whole pattern on the other side as God does."


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Maker’s Mark Distillery Tour

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It says something that we arrive just minutes after the office opens and there are already two full groups of about 40 people placed ahead of us.  Not to worry; Maker’s Mark is staffed for this, as evidenced by our tour beginning 15 minutes after they opened, for a tour that lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes not including time in the “gift shop.”


Like others I’ve visited, Maker’s is  located in a vale of sorts, accessed by an unlikely approach of several very rural roads.  Originally built around 1805 and operated as Burks Distillery, William Samuels Sr. bought the shuttered site in 1953.  His family had made whiskey for six generations, and he wanted to make a finer whiskey than his family’s recipe, which was reportedly burned.   The secret, they say, is Kentucky’s limestone filtered water.  But each distillery has its own tweaks.


The site itself has a somewhat charming topography, not too unlike Tolkien’s Shire.   The process of making whiskey is essentially the same as others, except that they replace rye grains with red winter wheat.  Roll the grains in a mil to reduce the bitterness, add the limestone water, add in corn and let it cook in one of three low flow cookers, lower the temperature, add the red winter wheat, cook it some more, add malted barley, and cook it some more.  The process takes 3.5 hours.  Then add it to the fermentation vat, add a strain of yeast held by the family for six generations, and wait for the starches to turn to sugars. You don’t get to see any of that, of course, only the spiffy equipment.


After the first day of fermenting, that’s when you have what is called “distiller’s beer,” which is then pumped into a column copper still.   Steam turns the alcohol portion to vapor, takes it up to a condenser, and viola. Except that Maker’s double distills it, through a pot still in their basement, to put the taste “more forward on the palette,” sweeter and less better.  And thus Maker’s White.


Below is a reminder that the place that supplies both old and modern tastes may be located in a very old building.


The tour guide gives frequent nods to Samuel’s wife Margie, who helped design the bottle, came up with the wax seal idea and method, designed the shutters with the bottle cutouts, and even the name, noting that on the bottom of other bottles was the glass maker’s mark.  


Next stop is the labelling shop, where three 1930s presses are used to the tune of 60,000 labels per day with the desired perforation qualities.   I hope they have backup machinery stored somewhere else…

Next step was Warehouse A, with skinny windows reportedly made to prevent people from sneaking barrels out.  This is the oldest of their warehouses and smallest, holding 4,000 barrels.  Others nearby are up to 7 stories and hold up to 50,000 barrels.  


About those barrels, to be legally termed a bourbon, distillers can only use barrels once, they have to be charred, and they have to be made of oak.   They obtain the barrels from Independent Stave company, who ages the barrels nine months and one “Kentucky summer” to remove the bitterness from the wood.   They’re then flame roasted on the inside for caramelization.  Once assembled and delivered, they’re filled with alcohol from the still, cut it with water at 110 proof, then deposit the barrels at the top of the warehouse, where they remain for three Kentucky summers, the heat of which causes alcohol to work its way more vigorously into the wood of the barrel.  

At end of third summer, key employees taste the barrels, as they don’t “grade” by barrel age.  When suited, they return the barrels to the bottom of the warehouse to age further, where they gain color, for a total of 5.75 to 7 years until maturity.   At that point, 378 barrels of similar age are merged to form a batch, where the taste is checked again.  As the brewery is part of a conglomerate, the spent barrels are shipped to a sister company in Scotland for aging Scotch whiskey. 

Then we approach “the cellar,” for the story, and sales pitch, for Makers 46 and Maker’s Special Blend.   Samuels, Jr., approaching retirement, wanted his own “brand.”  So he took Maker’s Mark, and working with the stave company and the master distiller, came up with an additional flavoring system.


You take the top two rings and the barrel head off the barrel, insert 10 French oak staves (aged 18 months and lightly flame seared) into the barrels, rebuild and fill the barrels, and age them for nine weeks in “the cellar,” a new building that is temperature controlled at 50oF.


The stave manufacturer termed the inserted staves as profile 46, or, as they were solely made for Maker’s Mark, Maker’s 46.   And, the third generation also wants his stamp.  So, instead of 10 staves of like kind, they will let “industry partners,” like restaurants, tweak the profile to their own liking.  The current Fall blend includes two Baked American Puro, four Maker’s 46, two seared French Cuvee, one Roasted French Mocha and one Toasted French Spice.

We then toured the bottle filling line, which is unremarkable except for the hot wax melting station, where employees hand dip each bottle, rotate it once or twice horizontally, then turn it vertically to allow the drips.  


One surprise of the tour was a Dale Chihuly exhibit, built right into the ceiling of a passageway from The Cellar to, I think, the frequently promised tasting.


And, on to the tasting.


The Maker’s White just burns, being grain alcohol, and the others are enjoyable to varying degrees of flavor and the extent to which you like your drink neat.  You get a couple sips per, for anyone who wants to count.

As far as swag goes, they have it.  I don’t drink bourbon except very rarely, but… there’s a father-in-law and guests at my Christmas Party.  And, there’s the opportunity to dip your own bottle of bourbon, so… yeah.



Overall, a great tour!

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Public Image Ltd–Live at Variety Playhouse

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In full disclosure, this isn’t a concert review but more of a collection of observations from a non-fan.  The offer of a free ticket was presented, so it was an opportunity for great Thai and some beers followed by a concert at my favorite Atlanta concert venue, starring none other than John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, who rose to fame as the lead singer of the Sex Pistols.


I’m old enough to remember that band, at a time where “classic rock” was being challenged by disco and punk for a generation demanding something different.  To Lydon’s credit, his band would become significantly influential for bands that followed, even if less audacious.  After that band ended, he formed Public Image Ltd, or PiL, a chronologically accurate “post-punk” band, whose T-shirts and bumper stickers I’d seen but never given much attention. 


Today, Lydon is a static figure on stage, limited to a narrow vocal range but with an abundant vibrato and perhaps some electronics for effect.  Based on the many gathered to hear him, it’s exactly what they expected.  For me, I don’t need to rush out to collect his music, but to give credit where it’s due, music has come a long way since guys had to sound like girls to make it in pop music, and Lydon’s five minutes of fame stretched far longer than most.   How that happened I’ll leave to the high-brow music writers, but I’d credit it to an audience tired of mainstream music or, more simply put, an antidote to, say, the Bee Gees.


That said, the attitude and posturing that accompanied his music in his heydey is nowhere on show today.  Frequently peering to the stand to find the lyrics, it looks to me like another aging rock star, making a living because he earned his fans and because he still can.   That’s okay – there are numerous elders in rock that I see all the time; it works for artist and audience.  In this case… just not me.  But, the entreaty to join the group at the show was to say “You can check Johnny Rotten off your list…”  (implied: “…of aging rock celebrities before they pass away”).  Check.


His guitarist was the focal point for me, Lu(natic) Edmonds.  First, just from appearances, should he need a change of career, he has a singular face that, with a few memorable lines, could have been a fan favorite in Game of Thrones.  He kind of catches the eye.  In addition to two guitars, he also played a “saz,” or more specifically, a Turkish baglama, (similar to a lute), only converted from acoustic to electric use (add perhaps fuzz pedals).  The instrument’s three strings were apparetnly tuned to G-D-A to allow a slide hit barre chords. The musician, the instrument’s appearance, and the sounds he made were the star of the show. 


I enjoyed the music.  The lyrics I understood were simplistic, though often indecipherable, and it didn't’ seem to matter as the audience joined in frequently and gave tribute with the typical fist pumps.  For me, after a long travel day from Dallas and an unsettling landing amid Hurricane Michael on my return to Dallas, I opted out early into the encore to “enjoy” the weather and the drive home.




  • Deeper Water
  • Memories
  • The Body
  • Disappointed
  • Warrior
  • The One
  • Corporate
  • Death Disco
  • Cruel
  • I’m Not Satisfied
  • Flowers of Romance
  • This is Not a Love Song
  • Rise


  • Public Image
  • Open Up – Leftfield
  • Shoom

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