Thursday, November 29, 2012

Periodic Table of Beer Styles

Heads up! Study this chart carefully, there may be a test!:

Graphic credit:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Redding Craft Beer Lovers Get Good News

Ran across this story while doing some research. Redding is a good stop along the way to Oregon, especially Ashland where good beer abounds, but Redding has been bereft of a proper watering hole/pub. Seems like that is about to change. Read on:

Photo: Brewbound Newletter

Friday, November 23, 2012

Hangover Cure

'Nuff said:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Floating an Idea for the Holidays

Does this float your boat? Give you an idea for dessert? Make you want go off your diet? The answer is yes, in my opinion! Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Favorite Beer Wins Gold in Germany

Firestone Walker's Double Jack IPA, one of my absolute favorite IPAs, won the “Consumer Favourite Gold” for top honors at the European Beer Star competition held in Nuremberg, Germany. The Consumer Favorite (different spelling for American readers) is chosen by event attendees from the top 50 Gold Medal winners, choosing the top three (Gold, Silver, Bronze) for medals. So FW actually won a Gold for the Double Jack, plus this award... a double win!!
It's currently on tap at TAPS in Petaluma (or was as of Friday night) so I'll have a chance to have it again fresh from the keg.
Photo: Firestone Walker web site.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Interview with Eric Lafranchi Continues

During the interview, Eric and I covered a number of topics, one of which was in response to my question about the type of folks who choose TAPS for their beer imbibing. I asked him who his favorite customer is. He replied thusly:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fireside Stout Kind of Day

Yep, cloudy, threat of rain, chill in the air... perfect time to build a fire and open a bomber (22 oz) of Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout. Great coffee flavor up front, caramel-like tastes over the tongue, alcohol well balanced (9.2% abv) and a satisfying, long finish.  This is what enjoying craft brewing is all about. I may have to have another one! Sorry I can't invite everyone over to join me but, we are supposed to be moving, you know.

Marv Parker photo

Petaluma TAPS Owner, Eric Lafranchi on Nitrogen

Well, actually, he's not ON nitrogen, he was merely responding to a question of mine about why do so many stouts taste better with nitrogen carbonation. I asked this at his pub some time ago:

The Old Rasputin he mentions is also one of my and Kay's favorites. Next time you're in Ft. Bragg, stop by the North Coast Brewing tap room for a taste, fresh from the brewery!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Brown Shugga Back On Shelves

One of my favorite seasonals is back again: Lagunitas' Brown Shugga. Didn't get any last year cause, due to expansion construction at their brewery, they couldn't make any. They did make a substitute, "Lagunitas Sucks" and while it was indeed a very good beer (especially on tap), there ain't but one Brown Shugga. So, hooray for the holidays, it's back!
So, now for some food pairing: You get the sweetness up front, so what food seems to work best? Spicy, in my opinion. I've had it with burgers, but didn't seem to complement each other nor add to the taste sensation. However, last night we tried it with marinated grilled pork loin quesadillas, with extra hot sauce for me, and the integrated flavors were fantastic! Actually, if you consider what the high alcohol (9.9abv) adds, you sort of get the sweet, spicy, bitter qualities that define Chinese cuisine. So I guess that will be the next tasting.
For more background on Brown Shugga (with a nod to the Rolling Stones) read about it here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

TAPS Helps Firestone Celebrate Their 16th

Another outstanding evening at TAPS, Petaluma last night. The occasion was the release party for Firestone Walker Brewing's 16th Anniversary Ale. This is indeed a very special beer; a blend of 8 different beers, 7 of which were barrel aged (in over 226 oak barrels) either in bourbon or brandy barrels and one aged in tequila barrels (!). Some barrels come from Kentucky distilleries, others from wineries in the Paso Robles area where Firestone is located. I recommend you read the background on this year's blend on the Firestone web site where much more detail is offered.

Firestone representative Kevin Orona, on hand to answer questions about the new release, offered part of the thinking behind the blending process; the brewmaster is after three taste sensations:"sweet, spicy and salty." So, what does it taste like? Well, the Stickee Monkee Barley Wine component added the "sweet" from Mexican Turbinado Brown Sugar, "spicy" from PNC which was the tequila barrel-aged beer and I'm not sure where the "salty" came from since I didn't recognize any in the flavor. What I did recognize was the chocolate, bourbon, slight coffee and even cognac-like flavors, finishing with a black rye and smooth alcohol intensity. Makes sense, since the alcohol is a notable 13% abv. 

Actually, part of the fun was letting the beer warm up and notice the flavors that emerged. Very noticeable differences and even the Firestone web site comments on this:

"XVI is best enjoyed poured carefully into a half filled brandy snifter or red wine glass.   Allow it to warm to 55F to fully enjoy the pleasing and complex aromas.  It takes a while, but as this beer sits and breathes in the glass, more rich dusty chocolate, stone fruit and crème brulee character is reveled as the rich spirit characters fade - so take your time."

Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary Blend

I hope you have a chance to try this extraordinary brew, preferably on tap. Then let me know what flavors you discover!!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

An Obscenely Hopped Tribute to Lenny Bruce

Interesting story about this rye-based double IPA. From Shmaltz Brewing's He'Brew label, it's called Bittersweet Lenny"s R.I.P.A and is a tribute to the late, great comedian and social commentator Lenny Bruce. You can read more about the back story here, but what you really need to know is that this is a fabulous brew, loved the rye characteristics that met the high hopped flavor on equal terms that led to a well balanced and delicious finish. ABV is 10%, so the alcohol was present but did not deter the flavorful finish in any way. My only complaint: the Tap Room ran out just after they poured my taster!! Bummer!! They only had that one keg so when it's gone..... in the photo below it's the taster on the left.

#2 Taster is Wedmer Brothers SXNW ( a play on SXSW which is South by South West, the festival held in Austin, TX each year. In this case, South by North West). It's described by Widmer as American Strong Ale, and with the 9.3% ABV, it is that but so much more. Pours very dark, as you can see in the photo, but not heavy bodied as you might expect. Here's a comment that I read on their web site:

"The initial flavor is of sweet smoky roasted malts and chocolate. No real bitterness in the beer, mostly sweet up front. There is a slight nutty flavor with some dark cherry. The finish is where this beer really shines. Lingering smoky malt, with chocolate, toffee and a spicy pepper feel left on the tongue with a slight pepper flavor. All of the flavors in the beer compliment one another. The flavors seem strange to be coupled together but in the end it's as if they belong together."

The third taster in the photo is a Schwarzbier Black Lager from Kostritzer Brewing in Germany. Very different from what I usually drink, but I liked it as I gain more experience with Black Lagers. Here's a description I found on the Beer Advocate web site:

"The flavor is of dark-roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, and a touch of hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium, and Kostritzer finishes fairly crisp and refreshing. Drinkablility is superb with this one. For a black beer, this is about as perfect as it gets."

Well that was a busy evening, as you can see, and very educational too -  a win-win session for me!

Chasin Freshies a New Favorite!

From Deschutes Brewery comes a new, fresh-hopped IPA that I really enjoyed the other night at Whole Foods' Tap Room in Santa Rosa. Very light in color for an IPA, almost a blonde, it was non-the-less a very flavorful brew, which Kay enjoyed an much as I. The fresh hop flavor really came thru, as I am getting better at recognizing its presence in the finish.  Here's how it's described on Deschutes web site:

"At harvest, we rush Goschie Farms' Cascade hops fresh from vine to kettle. Not any Cascades, mind you, but an heirloom strain, from a single field, restored from the original rhizome. Hope you’re as hopped up as we are.

It's only available thru December so I recommend you go chase down some of this before it's gone. ABV: 7.4% IBUs 60.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Three Magic Words!

That's the case here; just can't come up with  the vocabulary that would do this ale proper justice, so, I'll just say the three magic words that should explain it all:

 Maple Bacon Ale.

Knowing that it's made by Rogue insures quality, having had a VooDoo Doughnuts Maple Bacon when Kay and I were married there (Portland, 2009) I can personally attest to their quality... it's just difficult for me to embrace the concept of those flavors very chilled. And, why pink?

FYI, here's how the Voodoo Doughnuts website describes it:

Style: Brown Ale     Food Pairing: Doughnuts & Pork
13 Ingredients:
Briess Cherrywood Smoked Malt, Weyermann Beechwood Smoked Malt, House-smoked Hickory Malt, Great Western 2 Row, Munich, C15, C75 Malts; Applewood-Smoked Bacon, Pure Maple Flavoring, Rogue Micro Hopyard Revolution & Independent Hops, Free Range Coastal Water & Pacman Yeast Specs: 14º PLATO 30 IBU 76 AA 30º Lovibond World Class Package: 750ml painted bottle.