Thursday, January 31, 2013

MIdnight at Port

Well, another first. Just picked up a bomber of Port Midnight Expression Black Lager, thanks to JT at Beercraft in Rohnert Park.

Being a serious, but admitted, hophead I am usually found with my face deep into an overly hopped ale, when doing equally serious quaffing. But Black Lagers seem to be showing up more often so being the adventurous soul that I am, must try them (obligation to my readers, you know).

Being a lager, the ABV is low, 5.5% in this case, qualifying it as a session beer. Color is easily 50+ SRM as befits this roasty malt flavor. I find it refreshing, an excellent change of pace beer which doesn't fatigue the palate.

Photo: Port Brewing Web Site.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dogfish Head Goes Apocolyptic

Its not secret that one of my all-time favorite breweries is Dogfish Head, out of Delaware. Got a t-shirt to prove it:

I just read an article about DFH which disclosed some of the brewery's incredible growth over the past year. Very impressive. For example, their IPA portfolio consisting of eight different beers grew at a pace of 25 percent in 2012. Obviously a lot of people other than me really like their hop-centric brews.

So this year they are planning a program called, AHOPECLIPSE NOW!, a series of more than 50 beer dinners built around Dogfish Head’s diverse portfolio of those “hop-centric” beers. Doubt that any are happening here in California, but you never know.

I ran across this video of owner Sam Calagione explaining what all will be happening this new year at the brewery:

Good news for us DFH lovers. And did I mention how much I like their Chicory Stout? It's a seasonal, alas, so it won't be back around until late fall but in the interim I'll have another 60 please...

Liquid Bread: Beer and Brewing in Cross-Cultural Perspective by Schief (Google Affiliate Ad)

Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Breweries by Bryson, Lew [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad)

History of Beer and Brewing by Hornsey, Ian [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad)

Libbey Craft Brew 4-Pc. Belgian Ale Glass Set (Google Affiliate Ad)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

From Monroe, WI to Petaluma, CA - A Beer Tale

Front entrance hides an attractive tasting room.
Couple years ago while back in Wisconsin visiting in-laws, we made a day trip over to Monroe, which is SW of Madison a few miles, to sample some local beers. Found the Minhas brewery just off the town square and proceeded to get familiar. 

Great time reading the old beer labels in their gallery and of course, sampling a few of their offerings (see pic of their tap pulls that day).

Minhas labeled bombers.
While in conversation with the staff member serving us, he let it be known that they had just recently contracted with Trader Joe's, a California based chain that is essential to our lifestyle these days, to provide bombers (22.oz) under a custom label. 

Custom label for Trader Joe's.

 I sort of forgot about the beers, though occasionally would look at the beer selections whenever I remembered. Well, last night, lo and behold, on the Petaluma Trader Joe's shelves there they were. I checked the labels, and sure enough, bottled by Rhinelander Brewing (their export label), Monroe, WI. And the real good news is the price: $1.99. That's an amazing price for a 22 oz. bottle these days. The only thing left to do is to sample them and see if the quality has held up since we visited the brewery and survived the travel. 

Stay tuned for the exciting results!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

IPAs Against Hot, Hot Wings -Which Wins?

Taking advantage of TAPS Petaluma's "wings Wednesday" the frau and I stopped by for some of those spicy goodies and chose several beers to pair with them.

Note: we never order the hottest, Stage 3, since Stage 2 damages enough taste buds.
Great sauce and of course their "salt n peppa" fries make an equally powerful assault... so that's where the beer comes in.

In the photo over there, I'm trying a Ninkasi  Double Red Ale to start. Paired well but the strong caramel character just didn't seem right, even with a good hoppy finish. Good drinker but for another dish.

Kay had the Rogue Roguenbier Rye. Neither of us felt it was the right beer either... the rye aftertaste didn't blend with the spices.

So, what two (pictured below) made the cut, so to speak? Well on the left is the Goose Island IPA (6% ABV) and on the right, Bear Republic's Cafe Racer 15, Dbl IPA (9%).
We both agreed that these two, tho very different styles of IPA were made for spicy food like those wings. Goose Island is typical of East Coast IPAs, i.e., less hoppy aroma and a much more balanced finish. The Racer 15 is another knockout, a hop bomb highly amped up! Very drinkable and has that creamy mouthfeel that Racer 5 impresses me with. The high gravity means going slow and probably only having one, but one was enough to corral those hot and spicy chicken parts!  Try it.

L to R: Goose Island IPA, Cafe Racer 15 Dbl IPA                                       

The Brewer's Bible: How to Brew Delicious Beers at Home by Kunath, Bri (Google Affiliate Ad)

Brooklyn Brew Shop's Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small B (Google Affiliate Ad)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bad News for British Beer Drinkers

Saw this story today. Reminds me of the Beatles' tune, "Taxman."   Hard to believe that a country so associated with pubs and pints could have a government so determined to destroy an icon. Sad. I think I'll have another IPA.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

TAPS Goes Rogue (for the evening)

I missed the official Rogue night at Petaluma TAPS but I did manage to stop by yesterday after the SF Fancy Food Show put me in the mood for some thirst quenching brews of a craft nature. So, what did I find but several of their special occasion brews still on tap! 
Here's what I had, L to R in the photo:

Dirtoir Black Lager, Oregasmic Ale, Roguenbier Rye Ale.

The Dirtoir is very black with tan head, as you can see. I found it medium bodied with dark roasted flavors (almost coffee but not quite) and a well-balanced, dry finish. Very refreshing, as a lager should be. 35 IBU, 5% AV, 75° Lovibond (dark roast!)

The Oregasmic is a Pale Ale, using only Oregon ingredients, including Free Range Coastal Waters (!). 40 IBU, 7% AV, 6° Lovibond (pale). Drinkability quotient is very high with me!

Adding to my rye bucket list, the Roguenbier Rye Ale had just the right balance for me. Moderate malty roast flavor and nose, dry finish with lingering rye notes. Will drink this one again! 25 IBU, 6.6% AV, 15° Lovibond.

BTW, the glasses are samples, not the real sizes! I prefer to keep the intake small when I have miles yet to go before arriving chez moi.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Shopping spree at Beercraft!

Responding to another of JT's today-only beer bargains, I rushed over to get my share. I also loaded up on Old Rasputin (notice the shopping belt) and grabbed a bomber of Ballast Point Victory at Sea, among all the other offerings.

Dare I try another new one ?

Beer in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Unger, Richard W. [Pape (Google Affiliate Ad)

Land of Amber Waters: The History of Brewing in Minnesota (Revised Edi (Google Affiliate Ad)

Another List - 100 This Time

Here's a regional list of the top places in the country to enjoy a delicious quaff (my new hobby, as well). I've had more experience with the West Coast ones of course, but at least now I can the work ahead of me more clearly!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Marin Brewing Company Announces New Website

Just learned that one of my favorite (and local) breweries, Marin Brewing Company, has updated their website. From their press release:

LARKSPUR, Calif. – The first brewery on the internet just got a digital facelift. Marin Brewing Company is proud to announce it’s recently renovated website,
Designed by the creative studio of Tommy & Emily Bailey from Collision Media, the new site boasts many new and improved features including an extensive list of award winning ales with images and spec sheets, beer distributor log-in, online retail store, photo galleries and an up-to-date News & Events blog. A full menu is also downloadable, making it even easier to enjoy takeout from one of Marin County’s landmark restaurants. Look for the ARTWORK icon to download a variety of logos in formats including JPEG and PDF.
In this digital age, now more than ever, having a user-friendly site is a key element to reaching a broadening customer base. “It was time to bring Marin Brewing Company into the age of smartphones and ipads,” states proprietor Brendan Moylan. “There are so many folks out there who can now get more information about our brewery with this website. This overhaul just makes it easier for people to enjoy our hard work and that’s awesome.”

Top Ten List from Men's Fitness Magazine

Not normally a reader of this magazine (pix of ripped abs tend to dampen my beer drinking spirits) but this article, by a former VIA (AAA) magazine intern is worth reading and very informative. Several new ones for me, tho they are on the East Coast, but I should have known about the Portland one. Now I do.

Ohio Breweries by Armon, Rick [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad)

Libbey Craft Brew 4-Pc. Porter Stout Glass Set (Google Affiliate Ad)

Carlsbad Calling

Yep, the North San Diego county city of Carlsbad is calling me for this upcoming event:

I stayed in Carlsbad several days last Spring while visiting as many SD breweries as I had time for. We were in Pizza Port's location for St. Patrick's Day, so you can imagine how the brews flowed!! Great time, great little coastal city and great beer! Shark Bite,anyone?

My photo of Carlsbad's Pizza Port on St. Patrick's Day, 2012

Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey by Yaeger, Brian [Paper (Google Affiliate Ad)

 A Treatise on the Brewing of Beer (1796) by Hughes, E. [Paperback] (Google Affiliate Ad)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

One of San Francisco's Iconic Pubs

Beer lovers in SF know about the Toronado Pub on lower Haight. Our friends at 101 North Brewing in Petaluma, just had their Imperial Stout added to the line up. Upon close inspection of the menu, a bit of a typo appeared. I'm sure the taste of the stout was unaffected.

Photo: 101 North Brewing website.

Beer and Meat

Two of my favorite food groups, and it sounds like an exceptionally good time plus it's for a good cause; win-win. 
In a more serious light, it's also an excellent opportunity to test one's food pairing abilities. If I make it to this one, that's what I would focus on.  Details to follow?

Info here:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Food Pairing From Last Night's Dinner

Celebrating the wife's birthday with friends at one of our favorite Santa Rosa restaurants, The Spinster Sisters, had the opportunity to pair their Tea Smoked Pork Belly (with anise braised beets) and Dogfish Head 90 IPA. The big, hoppy finish cut right through the pork fat and released the smokey pork flavor and opened up the IPA as well. Very satisfying quaff and no heavy, stuffed feeling at meal's end. Winner all around, perfect night of celebrating.

Photo: M. Parker

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Stone Enjoy By IPA Released

Does this series of numbers mean anything to you?
9.21.12 - 11.09.12 - 12.12.12.

If they do, then you will be excited by this number: 02.15.13!!

Ok, to cut the suspense. We are talking about a new series of IPA releases by Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA,  which are known by their Enjoy By dates. It's all in the interest of drinking fresh beer. So, back in Sept, Nov and Dec there were drink by days, after which all beer was pulled (if any was left). And now, starting tomorrow Jan 15, there will be a new hopbomb release that must be drunk by (preferably sooner) Feb 15, 2013. As Bill Clinton said, "it's arithmatic."

Read more about Stone's motivation for this brilliant new marketing idea here.

Photo: Stone Brewing website.

Playoff Pints Help 49ers Win!

Heritage line up for game day!

Watching the Packers-Niners game at Heritage Public House in Santa Rosa was quite an experience; both for the game and the beer! As usual they had a wonderfully varied menu on tap. However, while still trying to choose the first beer, the Packers scored on an interception! Obviously decision time: chose the Drakes' 1500 Pale Ale and right away Kaepernick ran 20 yds for a TD! I definitely made the correct choice. Go Niners!

Drakes 1500 Pale is described as:

"An American Pale Ale. For batch number 1500, we decided to brew a big hoppy beer, yet make it quaffable by keeping the alcohol level down. Turns out everyone liked it so much, that it is now brewed year-round. Loads of Simcoe and Amarillo hops are blended in the fermenter just after fermentation has finished to impart a huge aroma of pine and citrus."

 I liked the long, dry finish and the fact that the low alcohol allowed for more than one, if needed. By the time the pint glass was empty, the Pack was ahead again... what to do?
Glancing again at the menu board, the Steelhead Extra Pale caught my eye and appetite so that was my next brew. Again, magic happened. Barely two sips into my brew and minutes into the second half, a 12 yd pass to Crabtree brought the game back to a tie. Now that's a winning beer!

Steelhead Extra Pale is, according to their website:

"... a bright golden hued ale of medium body with a spicy/floral hop character and a very mild bitterness.  Goes well with poultry, fish/sushi & spicy foods." 

I think they will have to add "football games" to their list of pairings!

Into the third quarter and, oh no, game is tied again! While the Niners worked on their strategy, I realized that the time had come for some serious hoppiness, so I turned to one of my all-time favorites, one that never fails to score with me, Stone's IPA. One sip of that dry-hopped flavor that results from a 77% IBU rating and I knew things were gonna happen. And sure enough, Kaepernick makes a run for it, almost as if he had heard that Stone was on tap and it was Happy Hour, and 56 yds later the NIners are on top and destined to stay there. 
I was quietly proud that I had done my part to send them to next Saturday's playoff against the dreaded Falcons. This will be a busy week of practice; they on their defeating Ryan strategy, me on my next selections of winning brews! Game on.

Photo: Stone Website


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Next Weekend: Monterey's the Spot

Starting Thursday night next week, Cannery Row Brewing has created another good reason to visit Monterey (besides the Aquarium which is only steps away). And as it so happens, it's all about beer, specifically, breweries from San Diego North County.  All are on my favorites list, so I can't go wrong, regardless of which ones I sample. Now, to find lodging that meets a poor blogger's budget...

Monday, January 7, 2013

Time to Vote for Best Craft Beer

The guys over at The Full Pint site are conducting a poll for best craft beer of 2012. I voted, so I'm passing along the link so you too can help choose ( and support your favorite) the best.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bay Area Brew Fest Gets 2013 Off to Good Start

First beer festival of the year (for me anyway) started in San Francisco, at Ft. Mason, with the 3rd Annual Bay Area Beer Festival. Huge pier building, used for all sorts of events and I can tell you that it didn't take long to be full of people, tiny beer mugs in hand.
These little guys hold 4ozs of the world's best beers!

The calm before the beer rush. Ft Mason, SF, CA

Approximately 3/4 of the building showing. Floor soon to be covered with eager beer tasters!

 To see the complete lineup of breweries participating that day, here's the link.

I Love Beer coaster (Google Affiliate Ad)

So, what was my first beer of the day (year)? Well, I surprised myself by avoiding some of the lighter pale or blonde ales that usually kick off a tasting for me, but when I saw a red rye within just a few steps from the opening gate, as it were, I was hooked.

Here's what the brewery says about Heretic's Evil Twin, my first taste:

"This blood-red ale may not be what you might expect from a malty and hoppy craft beer. Evil Twin has a rich malt character, without being overly sweet. It has a huge hop character, without being overly bitter. It is a great example of a bold, rich, balanced craft beer, without being heavy and hard to drink in quantity. Our Evil Twin is only bad because it is too good to resist."
I wasn't as eloquent; I just said, "wow, I like it!"

Despite the Speakeasy eyeballs, the Triple Voodoo rep filled my mug.
Another standout for me was from Triple Voodoo: Inception, a Belgian Style Ale which was quite a departure from the typical Belgians I have tasted (and I don't drink a lot of them, I must confess). I liked the prickly carbonation which carried thru to the finish, which was dry with noticeable hop flavor. This is one that I would have tried again, had I more time.- 8% ABV
Here's a description from Triple Voodoo's website:
"Triple Voodoo Inception Belgian Style Ale is not brewed in traditional Belgian style like traditional Trappist ales. Inception is bright and clear with a sharp alcohol note in the beginning and an added twist of black currant in the center of the flavor profile. The beer finishes clean and has a solid malty backbone. This unique flavor profile was achieved using a special hop varietal. The high hop load also makes it reminiscent of an IPA and gives it that unique California characteristics."  

I continued on, as the crowds grew, looking only for new beer opportunities. On a quest like this, I have a rule of not trying any beer with which I am already familiar. Saves time and helps avoid lines, many times.

 Some sights along the way:

Lots of picture taking in between sips.

Those whose picture was taken.

Beer drinkers are known to be style icons (Ha!)

Great idea for instant style enhancement....
 ... except it started raining outside about midway through:
Rain drops begin to dampen some outdoor lovers' beer enjoyment

Continuing on... pouring and tasting:

Pouring some Scarlett Red Rye, which I consider one of the best Ryes around.

Uncommon Brewers....
.... and their uncommon brews. Yep, it's got bacon in it!!

A serious moment of reflection at 101 North, one of Petaluma's growing number of new breweries. Their Heroine IPA is fabulous and I have the waist line to prove it!

Three Twins Ice Cream reps like beer fests too!
When I saw the Three Twins Ice Cream truck, I thought to myself: nice idea. Then after finding the Ballast Point table, I wanted to pair their Vanilla Bean Speck with Ballast Point's Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter!! Combined, you'd have a great float! By itself, this tasty porter is perfect for sipping in front of the fire or passing around the table after dinner. ABV of 10% but, hey, you're staying home anyway, so go for it!

Cuisinart Pure Indulgence Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet and Ice Cream Maker (Google Affiliate Ad) 

Our Loozeeana man.... the Abita Jockamo IPA screamed for jumbalaya, the spicier the better!

The seven different malts gave this Pale definite character. Very drinkable.
Drakes can do no wrong, imho.

Seems a waste but it's necessary dump the unwanted beer.

Hard times demand great beer!

I liked their IPA, lighter body but good hoppy finish.

Firestone Walker is another of my favorite breweries. Hopmonk uses their Pale as the Tavern Ale (little tip for you).

You can't drink it all, pacing is everything.

Nothing but a crowd, all the way back to the front doors.

Hang over cures were free.... didn't have one so I can't say if they work or not.

Ok, I'll say it: a hoppy fellow!

Lagunitas was pouring Sucks from the bottle for early arrivers. Soon ran out.

One of the longest lines was for Ninkasi... lots people I asked didn't know why, they just joined the line!

With a name like Orgasmic Beer, who wouldn't be happy.

I'm sure there's a joke in there somewhere....
 So, it's time now to announce my favorite for the day. I always manage to find one beer that stands out, one that I remember long after the event and one that I certainly intend to have again. I don't call it best of show or anything like that, cause that's very subjective and hard to call. I just pick the one that impressed me the most, that day, that tasting. And the winner of Headforbeer's  favorite of the 3rd Annual Bay Area Brew Fest is, Heretic's Evil Cousin.
Here's how the Heretic website describes it:

Evil Cousin is Heretic's take on a West coast imperial IPA. This beer is a bold, in-your-face hop monster. It has a light, easy drinking malt character that allows the hops to stand out. The hop character in this beer is intentionally on the dank side; big, sticky, and aggressive. This beer is for those of you who can't get enough hops. Join us on the dank side.

I loved this beer, it's what a hophead like me lives for!

Gotta go, sun's shining today, and there's more beer out there to be sampling! Salut!