As was evident in the recent Atlanta SNOWPOCALYPSE(™), the good people of this city excel at coming together in times of need. And the story of the Giving Kitchen has been one of those amazing coming together stories that exemplifies our city’s spirit. Chef Ryan Hidinger is central to the story – one man’s battle with cancer morphing into a community rally for others in need. It was his battle that sparked the Giving Kitchen idea, and his remarkable enthusiasm and will that helped bring it to life. But it’s the embrace of the community around Hidinger that extends his legacy, and that embrace continues to be shown in an amazing multitude of ways. Like this Second Helping IPA from SweetWater Brewing Company.
The Giving Kitchen’s mission is to provide crisis grants to members of Atlanta’s restaurant community facing unanticipated hardship.
The important thing here is that mission, that embrace. The secondary thing here is the taste. Have no doubt, though, that SweetWater and Hidinger teamed up to turn out something remarkable.
I urge you to learn more about this cause, and to go try this beer. You’ll be glad you did on both counts. Second Helping is an Atlanta-only limited release (go get some now, seriously, it will be running out over the next couple weeks), served up in 22oz bottles or growlers in shops and bars all over town. I asked the folks at SweetWater about Second Helping’s success, and Francesca Zeifman there replied that Second Helping was one of their “fastest selling brews,” saying, “there was such passion put into this campaign from all parties involved, and the story behind the beer and its mission is so compelling. Nearly every drop was pre-sold before it hit the market.” See that? Community.
While no definite plans have been made for future Second Helping releases, SweetWater let me know that they do hope to continue working with the Giving Kitchen. Hopefully we’ll see a second (and third, and fourth) Second Helping. To learn more about the cause and the beer, visit thegivingkitchen.org, read this great intro from the AJC’s beer guru, Bob Townsend, or check out the video from Beer Street Journal featuring Nick Nock and Steve Farace from SweetWater.
And here’s my review and tasting notes on the beer itself.
For you beer geeks out there, Second Helping is made with a variety of specialty malts (2-row, Victory, Chocolate, Wheat), as well as five types of hops (Amarillo, Bravo, Centennial, Chinook, Simcoe). Juniper berries were added in the whirlpool, and also during dry hopping. And it’s those juniper berries that really make this one stand out.
Second Helping pours a lovely rich copper, with hints of cherry wood red. The nose hits the expected pine and citrus notes, with a smooth and deep maltiness in the background. Second Helping has a pleasant and fairly lush mouthfeel. It’s a bit sharp at first, with that pine and citrus most prominent, also some more herbal botanical character, but then it mellows out quickly into caramel and a bit of chocolatey and hearty crusty bread. Then that crisp juniper gin character kicks in towards the finish, before melding into a hoppy IPA finish that goes on and on. That’s a lot of quick character evolving in a single sip, and it will have you coming back for more.
* Thirsty South Rating Scale:
Wow – among the very best: knock-your-socks-off, profound, complex liquid gold!
Excellent – exceptional in quality and character, worth seeking out, highly recommended
Good Stuff – solid expression of its type/varietal, enjoyable and recommended
Fair – fairly standard or exhibiting obvious though minor flaws
Avoid – move away folks, nothing to see here, a trainwreck