The Art of beer Pt. 7 – Proper Glassware and Serving

Let’s talk about glasses ….

No… not those glasses… These glasses!

Half the battle of really getting the flavor out of your beer, no matter the style or brand, is serving it in the proper glass. Using a glass specifically designed for the liquid you are consuming has been a standard for wines, liquors and cocktails for almost a century.

It took the craft beer revolution for Americans to be awakened to the idea of proper glassware for beer. The reason for this, of course, is the inferior flavor of the current (and if I may add, waning) reigning American Light Lagers. That and the co-opting of American bars by the U.S. Beer Distributors.

For many years now, the Big Beer brewers have been pushing the beer logo -emblazoned pint glasses on to bars so that they can get their names out in front of the customers. The problem is that the glass they decided to use is, of course, the least expensive to produce. But it’s not even a proper beer glass. The pint glass (in America often called the “Shaker” and in the UK the “Nonic”) does nothing for any of the beers styles served in it. It often causes the beer to lose flavor and carbonation sooner than it should. The Shaker was originally a bar glass used for mixing cocktails (thus the name “Shaker”) and was repurposed for serving beers by many bars for the cost efficiency as well as the ability it has for easy stacking.

In the ‘70s and prior, most bars would serve beer in mugs, chalices or pilsner style glasses. But thanks to the commercialism of Big Beer and their associated Distributors, we now have an entire generation that is ignorant of proper beer serving techniques.

So, let us review the Do’s and Don’ts, the rules of proper beer serving and the correct glassware for your favorite craft beers. We’ll start with the Don’ts!

  1. Don’t drink it from the can or bottle whenever possible!
    a) Always try to serve in a glass, even if you have to use a plastic Dixie cup. Drinking from the bottle or can doesn’t give you two essential benefits of drinking good beer:
    i. If you don’t pour the beer you don’t create the head of the beer and therefore are missing out on the aromas that enhance a good beer.
    ii. If you don’t pour the beer the carbonation is still trapped in the liquid. This means you are swallowing carbon dioxide, which can lead to indigestion and affect the aftertaste of the beer.
  2. Don’t pour beer into a pitcher!!
    a) Pouring beer into a pitcher starts the process of it losing its effervescence and flavor. So, by the time you reach the bottom of the picture you have stale, flat beer. Then we abuse this poor liquid even further by adding a bag of ice or some other artificial cooling apparatus to it in hopes of keeping it cold. Which in turn adds the condensation of the cooling object into the beer further diluting it. In reality, this should be unnecessary as Good beer not only can stand a little warming but will even release other characteristics as it warms. This leads me to the next topic…
  3. No. No! NO chilled glasses!! Ever!!
    a) How many reasons can I point out why we shouldn’t chill a beer glass? Let’s count shall we…
    i. Chilling any liquid changes the flavor. More bitter and unpleasant notes and flavors become clearer as the liquid begins to warm. This is true of wines, liquors and beers. That is why brandy drinkers will swirl the brandy around in their snifter while letting the bowl rest in their palm. The heat from the hand warms the liquid releasing additional flavors and scents they can enjoy. If you prefer the beer to be just above freezing in order to drink it then you are likely masking unpleasant ingredients. Wouldn’t it be better just to start with a better beer?
    ii. Dipping a glass in water then sticking it in the freezer means you are coating the glass with water. When you pour the beer into the glass you are actually watering it down.
    iii. Chilling the beer not hampers the flavor but the scents of the beer, which in turn affects the overall tasting experience.
    iv. It only delays the inevitable. And if you have to have your beer ice cold then you need to drink it fast in order to avoid drinking it warm.
    v. It’s a trick! Bars and breweries that practice this do so to hide the real flavor of bad beer.
    b) If you read my last article then you read that while in Austin at the hotel bar I asked for a non-chilled glass so I could properly drink a breakfast stout. The look of shock on the bartender’s face was such that you would have thought I asked her to remove her clothes! Another victim of the Big Beer and Beer Distribution campaign against proper beer serving!

That’s enough for the “Don’ts”… Let’s talk about some “Do’s”!

Tucker likes good craft beer too. Don’t worry I know hops are bad for dogs. This is a Hefeweizen and he only licked the empty glass.
  1. Make sure any glass you serve in has been properly cleaned. And when I say clean I also mean properly rinsed. Soap on the glass can be just as detrimental, maybe more so than any previous liquid contaminants. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to tell how clean a glass may be is to look at how the suds slide down the glass. If you have a fairly even recline in the way they slide down the glass wall then the glass is clean. But if you see suds clinging more so to one area than another, it is likely there is at the least some residue, whether it is soap or something else.
  2. When pouring a beer, whether out of a can, bottle or keg, tilt the glass slightly so the beer pours down the side of the glass until the glass is about half full. Then straighten the glass and let the beer pour into the center. This will begin releasing some carbonation and help to form a good foamy head without it being too big.
  3. And lastly, please select the glass that best fits the beer style you are serving. Below is a list of the some of those glass types and the beer styles that are best served in them. We have already discussed and discredited the pint glass and though it is the most utilized glass style we will not include that in the discussion.

a. Flute – This glass, similar to a champagne glass, helps to show off and retain carbonation but also help to release aromatics which lambics and fruit beers are known for, which is what you would ideally serve it this. You can serve the beer styles listed below:
• American Wild Ale
• Bière de Champagne / Bière Brut
• Bock
• Czech Pilsener
• Dortmunder / Export Lager
• Eisbock
• Euro Strong Lager
• Faro
• Flanders Oud Bruin
• Flanders Red Ale
• German Pilsener
• Gueuze
• Lambic – Fruit
• Lambic – Unblended
• Maibock / Helles Bock
• Munich Dunkel Lager
• Munich Helles Lager
• Schwarzbier
• Vienna Lager
• Weizenbock

b. Goblet or Chalice – This style allows for head retention and allows for big sips. It is intended for beers with a higher ABV.
• Belgian IPA
• Belgian Strong Dark Ale
• Berliner Weisse
• Dubbel
• Quadrupel
• Trippel

c. Mug – This came to live in German to replace the Stein. It featured thick glassware for both durability and assistance in keeping a beer cool. Serve with mostly lagers and other German style beers:
• American Ales
• American Lagers
• German Ales
• German Lagers
• Pilsners

d. Stein – Originally made of glass, clay or wood. During the middle ages they began to feature a lid to help keep pests out of the beer.
• American Ales
• American Lagers
• German Ales
• German Lagers
• Pilsners

e. Pilsner Glass – Intended for use with it’s namesake this glass feature a conical shape with no curvature to the sides. It is intended to showcase the color of the beer and help to retain the head.
• American Pilsner
• Baltic Pilsner
• Czech Pilsner
• German Pilsner
• Light Lagers

f. Snifter – This wide bowl shaped glass allows aromatics and volatiles to be released and like it’s cousin used for brandy will allow the heat from the users hand to warm the beer. This is primarily intended for beers with a higher ABV.
• Barleywine
• Belgian Triples
• Belgian Quads
• Bocks
• Double Bocks
• Imperial Ales
• Imperial Stouts
• Strong Ales
• Scotch Ales (substitute for thistle glass)
• Most beers with over 7% abv.

g. Stange – German meaning “Rod”this cylindrical glass shape is meant for lower capacity and lighter beers.
• Alts
• German Kolsch
• Gose
• Gueuze

h. Tulip – Bowl shaped at the bottom with a mouth that flares out this glass is great for strong aromatic beers with a lot of hops.
• Belgian Ales
• Biere de Garde
• India Pale Ales (IPAs)
• Pale Ales
• Scotch Ale AKA Wee Heavy (substitute for thistle glass)
• Strong Ales

i. Thistle – a Scottish cousin to the tulip is intended for
• Scotch Ale AKA Wee Heavy
• Barleywine

j. Weizen – sometimes confused as a pilsner glass this glass is actually much larger and has a curved shape to the upper glass that helps with head retention. Its a tapered glass with the narrow bottom that helps to trap yeast. It is intended strictly for wheat beer.
• All Wheat Beers
• Dunkelweizen
• Hefeweizen
• Kristalweizen
• Weizenbock
• White Ales
• Belgian Wit (substitution for tumbler)
• Gose
• Pilsner (substitution for pilsner glass or pokal glass)

k. Over-sized Wine Glass – It is a wine glass that is used for serving stronger flavored and higher ABV beers.
• Double IPA
• Barleywine
• Belgian Doubles
• Triples and Quads
• Strong Ales
• Most high gravity (ABV) or big beers

Boots – Called so for their familiar shape, this glass is more of a novelty because air can become trapped in the toe of the boot and when the air pocket releases it can cause a splash on the drinker. Thought to be of German origin and German style beers are typically served in it.

Yard – Another novelty glass, it is thought to have originated in England where stage coach drivers were not allowed to leave the carriage while their passengers patronized a road house. This long glass was invented so that the driver could refresh himself while the patrons were busy inside

And that brings to close the proper etiquette associated with beer glasses…

No! Not those kind of glasses!

Papabear

A Visit to Austin, TX and a Very Hopp-y Easter!

It’s been a few months since my last post and to be honest I’ve been so busy at work that taking the time write an epistle was not a priority. Ironically, it took a work-related event in the form of a conference to cause me to stop… take a breath… and realize how much time has passed since I had flexed my blogging muscles.

I will not go into conference details as, unless you using SAP as your ERP system, then you are not likely to find any interest in that aspect of the story. But I will highlight some of my exposure to Austin’s food and craft beer cultures.

The décor in my hotel room in the Hyatt Regency speaks of Austin’s musical background in Texas Blues.

My arrival on Monday the 26th included an afternoon session, after which I met up with colleagues from other companies as well as a my coworkers who also attended including a former colleague who was working in a related but different industry and was there for the conference. The meet-n-greet included free alcoholic beverages so I took the opportunity to begin sampling some of Austin’s craft beer. My intro was a Pilsner from Austin Beerworks.

Austin Beerworks Pearl-Snap Pilsner

It had a good Pils flavor though it was slightly stronger in the hops arena. My only complaint was that they did not include a glass to serve it in. I would like to have seen how the beer clung to a clean glass and what kind of head it produced.

After the meet-n-greet my colleagues and I took a stroll across the Congress Avenue Bridge and headed north toward the Capitol, until we got to 6th Street, then we turned right and went another block and entered BD Riley’s Pub just on the left.

Observers waiting for the Bats on Congress Bridge.
Heading north on Congress Avenue you can see the Capitol building in the distance.

BD Riley’s is an Irish Pub to be clear but it’s an Irish Pub in Texas. So the Blues music cultural is definitely alive and well there (see link below).

While there I started with a really good Pecan Porter from (512) Brewing Company. It has a really great flavor and look to it. And it went well with the Appetizer Sampler platter we ordered. The wings had good heat the fried dill pickle slices were tasty and the chicken planks weren’t bad. I didn’t have any stuffed potato skins but I was told there were delicious.

(512) Brewing Company’s Pecan Porter

For my main course I ordered the Chicken Newton. Which contains pulled chicken breast, crisp bacon and tangy green apples chopped and topped with a four-cheese blend then skewered on Texas Toast quarters. I paired that with an Axis IPA from Real Ale Brewing. Both were very good and satisfying.

We headed back to our hotel after dinner and awaited the next day’s sessions of conference presentations.

After all of the speaking and mingling of the day, we met up with a mix of other utility companies at a social dinner sponsored by one of the Vendors at the conference. It was a good mix of discussions about our day to day activities as well as comparisons of how each company handles their own tasks. We also ventured off into other avenues of interest which included travel, foods and craft beers (for some of us). It was good to meet people from other areas who shared my interest in Craft. The dinner was held at Zax Restaurant & Bar, a short walking distance from the Hyatt Regency.

They had us segmented away in a corner of the restaurant and rightfully so as there were about 30 or more of us. I walked back toward the bar to view the display of beer taps and see what the fare was. I was surprised to find that most of the taps were local brands, and only a few were more well known (Lone Star, Shiner).

I started out with a Kolsch named All Call from Lakewood Brewing. Very nice Kolsch flavor and it re-enforced the reputation that a lot of breweries in Texas are specializing in Lagers, Pilsners and other German based brews.

As the evening went on and discussions carried forward we began placing our orders for dinner. When I did I also put in an order for what they called their “Austin Flight” which was an all Austin based sampling of beers.

This included a Pilsner, an IPA, a Vienna Lager and an Amber Ale. I wish I could tell you the breweries but I wasn’t fast enough to write them down, much less hear them correctly with the background chatter surrounding me. I can say they were all good examples of each style and very tasty. They also complemented the dinner of Tilapia served with capers on linguine and mixed veggies.

And I have to give a mention to the delicious Blackberry Ginger Cheesecake that was made on site. A very tasty dessert.

That evening drew to a close and we went into the last day of the conference with all of the associated sessions. By 5 PM the conference was ended and many folks had gone on their way to their respective destinations. My colleagues and I weren’t returning until the next day, so we spent Wednesday evening with one last journey into the Austin air. We decided to follow a recommendation (from several sources) for local BBQ, Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, located on Congress Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets. Being a short walking distance from the hotel didn’t hurt.

We arrived just before the customary line out the door started. In fact, it started forming behind us as there was a small line to get in to put your order inside. While waiting on the inside line I ordered another local beer, National Park Hefeweizen from Big Bend Brewing.

This was a very tasty Hefe and paired well with the BBQ Pork Ribs and Brisket I ordered for my meal. It also went well with the cole slaw, grilled corn on the cob, and the jalapeno-bacon-mac & cheese that I had for the sides.

That was some of the best BBQ I have had at a restaurant ever! I highly recommend this place if you find yourself in Austin. Not only is the BBQ very good but the beer selection is great as well. There are two levels of seating as well as outdoor seating and they were filling up by the time we left.

We decided to take a stroll and found ourselves heading north for the Capitol building. Unknown to me until informed by the Supershuttle driver who brought me from the Airport, the Capitol in Austin is the largest Capitol in the US. And after having seen it in person I believe her (see pics below).

After walking to the Capitol and making our way back to the hotel, I decided one final draft was in order, so I went to the hotel bar and ordered a perfect dessert beer to top off the evening, the Convict Hill Oatmeal Stout from Independence Brewing.

This smooth coffee/chocolate/oatmeal flavored stout was the perfect cap to an evening

In the morning, I arose and showered then began to pack and decided to get breakfast at the hotel. The view was cloudy but pretty and the breakfast was a tex/mex fave of mine, Huevos Rancheros.

The layer of beans covered with sausage and a couple over easy eggs, topped with avocado and a grilled jalapeno was a perfect “I’m going to be traveling all day and don’t know when I will eat.” type of breakfast. A good final meal to say goodbye to Texas with.

My only complaint about the trip would be how beer is served in Austin, and this may be true throughout Texas. I don’t like drinking from a can. No matter how good the packaging technology may be, psychologically I still taste metal. And I don’t like that they serve their beers in frosted glasses. In fact, when I asked for a non-frosted glass the bar person looked at me like I was crazy. They obviously haven’t been taught in Texas that frosting the beer glass masks the flavor of the beer. And while the beers I had tasted good, I really didn’t get their true flavor because they were all masked. That is a bit disappointing in a town that pride’s itself on craft beer.

I would like to add that I have been to Texas many times in the past, (San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and parts in between) and none of those visits has been as rewarding as this one. I would readily take a trip to Austin again, whether on business or as a vacation destination. I cannot say that of the other parts of Texas I have been to.

A no-show of a co-pilot delayed my connecting flight in Atlanta by about a hour and half so I didn’t get back into Gainesville until after 8 PM that Thursday. So I was unable to pick-up Tucker from the Doctor’s house until the next day. Luckily for me, the Doctor was able to keep Tucker entertained while I was away.

So much so that he slept well while he was there.

So now I am home and spending my Easter with my little beer hound. I hope all of you are getting to spend Easter with your loved ones and enjoying the day.

Maybe you’re hunting for eggs or for a new tradition that seems to catching on beers.

Most of all I hope you’re enjoying the holiday meals that have been prepared, both the traditional and non-traditional.

However you are spending the day, whether based in faith, or in spending time with family and/or friends, or both I hope you enjoy the colors and flavors of the day and match them up well with your favorite ale!

Papabear

Happy New Beer 2018!! (A Craft Beer State-of-Union)

Welcome to the unofficial State of the Union of Craft Beer (or Independent Beer or Micro Beer or whatever someone decides to name this movement next)!
I call it unofficial because I am certainly not the President of this beer culture. I’m not even a Congressman or Senator. I am simply an amateur brewer, blogger and beer aficionado. But I love great tasting beer and have done so for 36 years now. Spending 36 years doing anything gives you a little bit of license when it comes to speaking about the subject. So, I am going to give you my observations about this last year and a little bit of what I see happening this coming year. Again, these are my opinions, or better yet, my conclusions as I will list some facts to back them up.

As was predicted last year, the Macro Beer companies (ABInBev, Molson-Coors, Heineken and Constellation Brands) continued their campaign of acquisitioning craft breweries instead of actually developing good beer.

ABInBev placed both Wicked Weed from Asheville, NC, and Breckinridge Brewery of Breckinridge, CO, under their umbrella to join Goose Island, Land Shark and Leffe as well as 13 others that make up their High End Division.

Molson-Coors acquired Terrapin Brewing of Athens, GA, because they didn’t have the ability to match Terrapin’s skills with their 97 other brands.

Constellation Brands, while not a big beer player and specializing more in wine and spirits, decided they needed to acquire California based Ballast Point Brewing to go along with their smaller stable of 9 brands. Then later in the year, they also acquired Funky Buddha Brewing of Boca Raton, FL.

And Heineken International, with its stable of 119 brands had to add one more so they went after and acquired Lagunitas Brewing, also California based.

All of these Craft Brewer’s were excellent examples of companies who excelled at what they were doing but in order to do more they needed investors. Which is where Big Beer came in and gobbled up opportunities. Only time will tell if their accepting the offers from Macro Beer companies will be harmful or beneficial.
In protest of Big Beer purchasing these companies I, along, I am sure, with many other Beer Snobs, have abstained from sampling or purchasing any of these former greats products. Another form of protest appeared in late October, in the form of the TakeCraftBack Campaign (see add below).

This Don Quixote-ish attempt to buy out Macro Beer, while hinting at David versus Goliath proportions was actually done in jest. But I believe it did bring to light the practices that ABInBev and others use daily to keep craft beer from obtaining more of the market. And while thousands of Craft Beer fans (including yours truly) pledged more the $3,000,000 to buy out Big Beer the goal of 213 Billion plus was laughably unobtainable. But everyone knew that going in.

And at the tale end of the year some good news appeared in the form of legislation that would lighten the tax burden of many breweries making it easier for them to purchase each other’s beers and spread across the tap rooms of America.

While this legislation benefits all commercial brewers big and small, Big Beer factors the taxes they were paying into their production costs. Smaller breweries may also do that, but smaller breweries are more likely to take that added available funding and experiment more with making different styles of beers. You’ve already seen that Macro Companies prefer to buy already perfected formulas than to develop new ones.

Federal Excise Tax Overview

2017 saw a slowdown in new Brewery openings. In fact, many industry insiders are predicting that the trend going forward will be Micro Breweries or brew pubs. The brewery market is becoming over-filled with the number of brands and styles to choose from. So local pubs which may brew their own and bring guest taps will be where you see the growth.

2017 also saw more loss of market share by Big Beer to craft beer, wine and whiskeys. A trend which will probably continue this next year despite Big Beers efforts to buy up market share. Of the $107,000,000,000+ in revenue generated by the Beer Industry in America in 2016, about $23,000,000,000 of that was from Craft Beer, an increase of 10% from the previous years.

Which brings us to now and the future, or at least 2018.

I think you will see a reduction of buy-outs by Big Beer. The amount of dollars invested in craft Breweries does not equal the amount lost in market share, though that may vary from company to company.

I do believe there will be an increase in Brew Pubs and Micro-breweries though even that will slow down compared to the last few years.

I would not be surprised to see Big Beers change tactics and begin investing more in the retail end of the Beer industry, opening their own brew pubs in large populated cities where they can lock out their competitors. But that will only work if they can bring a good offering of cuisine to accompany their products. Otherwise it will be money down the drain.

I would also not be surprised to see Big Beer begin head-hunting for brewing talent and begin expanding their capabilities for experimenting with new styles.
It’s for sure that their current modus-operandi is not working.

Whatever happens, I encourage everyone to continue to support their local breweries and try new beers as often as possible.

Papabear

Beercation 2017 – Preparation (Subtitled “Hey Irma… We’re still standing!!”)

I don’t know about the rest of you but the last few months for me have been extremely busy. We in Florida had a rather worrisome lady friend, named Irma, give us one helluva visit in September! She may not have been as dangerous as we thought she was going to be, but she was plenty dangerous enough for me.

Her arrival in the wee early morning hours on September 11th, and her subsequent departure later in the day, left the utility company I work for enough to keep us busy for 8 straight days of 17 hour shifts. By the time it was over we were exhausted, but we had services back up to 100% of our customers in that time frame. A lot of other places in Florida weren’t as fortunate.

This also put a little bit of a time constraint I had on prepping a new RV trailer I purchased the week before, Labor Day weekend. When I got the trailer home I took Tucker and his new little buddy Harley (I was babysitting Rowdy’s dog while she and the Cooler were out of town.) out to see the new toy and they were plenty excited.

Later that day I began making plans for a vacation to Asheville, NC. I booked a KOA camp site, looked up a list of breweries and pubs that I haven’t been to yet and highlighted those that were pet friendly as Tucker is accompanying me, then began an itinerary that included some time at Grandfather Mountain, hiking, and just some relaxing.

Then upon returning to work on the Tuesday after Labor Day we were entered into full blown Storm Prep. Any plans I were working on were forgotten in the milieu that accompanied the approaching doom. You may think I am exaggerating, but at the time Irma was tracking on a course that would bring her right up the middle of the state, the worst possible scenario. The devastation from that trajectory would do so much harm that the recovery could take months.

At work we prepped as best we could, contacting Vendors to get as much material in ahead of time that we could, seeing what was lined up to come in and what was available after Harvey had torn up Texas. I have to give some credit here because the Vendors that we use for supplying our material needs really stepped up and made sure we were a priority for them. After that is was a matter of battening down the hatches and securing the facilities. By the end of business that Friday, except for a couple of last minute deliveries we had set-up for that Saturday and Sunday, we were about as ready as we could be for this storm.
I attended a little pre-storm beer session with my fellow Beer Bacchanalians that early Friday evening and, in between answering phone calls and emails from work on my cell phone, managed to enjoy a couple of last brews before the storm hit.

All of Saturday was spent on phone calls and emails coordinating schedules for after the storm restoration and determining who would be hunkered down at work during the storm. I spent so much time on this that I wasn’t able to get the outside of the house prepped for the storm until late Sunday morning. I was picking up deck chairs and making sure the new RV was secure while it was raining cats and dogs.

Around 10 PM my power blinked out once for about 5 minutes. I took that as a hint that it was fixing to get bad, so when the power came back on I turned everything off and went to bed to await Irma’s imminent arrival. I actually spent the next couple of hours texting back and forth with my sisters who both also live in Florida. Tucker had fits all during the evening as the sounds of the storm made him restless.

Around 1 AM I woke up to the sound of the wind howling like a banshee around the house and through the trees that surround my neighborhood. I began hearing the sound of the house creaking loudly coming from the corner that my bedroom was in. The sound of the wind and the creaking was enough to make me rethink my location so I got up and laid down a couple of sleeping bags in the hallway between my office and the guest room. That was centrally located and probably provided the best protection in case of a tree falling or the roof lifting off. Tucker followed me and while we tried to get some rest we both had little of it that night.

At 430 AM my alarm went off and while I was already awake I knew I need to grab my flashlight and begin getting ready for the early morning storm briefing. At that point Irma had passed over us but we were still experiencing tropical force winds and would until about Noon that day. I checked out the house and saw some damage to the privacy fence but near damage to the main structure so I changed clothes and went in to work.

That alone was a difficult task. Not only were trees and limbs down all over town and well as power out to most of the traffic lights, but the entrance to my neighborhood was under about three feet of water. I know that because when I drove though it, as it came up to the bottom door of my pick-up truck. Some of my neighbors were stuck there with the lower cars they had.

So we all went in at Noon and worked til 10 PM that night. Then went home and came back at 5 AM in the morning and again worked until 10 PM. This routine repeated for the next 6 days.

By Friday morning, all of us had been at this for at this for at least 61 hours, some longer because of the preparations for the storm. As I looked around the room all I saw were tired faces. Tired… but determined.

Sunday morning while we’re dragging ourselves in to try and finish restoration to the last 1.5%  of the community, while most of the folks in the area are already back to their Sunday routines of church, family gatherings and NFL football. That routine is what the last 1.5% wants to get back to… and so do we. But we’re not done yet.

As the day wears on the effect of the fatigue we are feeling becomes very evident when one of my staff members is injured. Luckily, the injury is just a simple contusion,  but it could have been worse and would have been easier to prevent if we weren’t all exhausted. After getting him a medical check out at the Health Center we sent him home with a lesson learned for all of us.

By Sunday night we have all but 380 customers back and we plan to start working on those at first light. That is less than 0.4% of our customers. Well over 60,000 restored within a 7 day period. By Tuesday morning we had restored all customers back to service.

Nothing enhances flavor quite like the deprivation of it. Going home for the first time in daylight that day I was finally able to do a better evaluation of my home and how it survived the storm. I talked to some of my neighbors to see how they fared. And I noticed that someone had cleaned up some of the debris in my yard and piled it for pick-up. The neighbors know I work for the utility company and knew I was at work while they could start making repairs on the damage they went through. Not only did the company I work for pull together to get everyone back up and running, but the community as a whole pulled together to help each other out.

The next weekend I began working on replacing a portion of the privacy fence. I also restarted prepping the RV for a trip I was planning in October. That was the first time I had been able to enjoy a beer since before the storm hit. I don’t know if it was deprivation or just a really good beer but nothing has tasted so good in a long time.

The following Monday the 25th I was joined by Rowdy and the Cooler for a Taps and Tapas dinner at Blackadder Brewing. An excellent 4 course meal accompanied by 5 excellent beers.

The following Saturday brought more rain back into the area but Rowdy and I decided to attend the Bacon and Brew fest in Deland Florida. They had some excellent Bacon available but the beer ran out in less than two hours. As you can see from the picture below we weren’t happy about that.

We did however decide to visit one of the breweries in town, Persimmon Brewing, which had some very good beers. And Rowdy’s Mom joined us and we went to Yola Mac and Grilled Cheese for some food. Excellent food bit the service was only so-so.

I finally finished the section of fence by this last Tuesday night and continued prepping for the vacation to Asheville NC, this Saturday. Tucker and I are both ready for a road trip and I have picked out some pet friendly places in Asheville to visit.

Today I am attending the Gator Homecoming Parade with my fellow Beer Bacchanalians and Gainesville House of Beer. Then I will finish up my preparations from the trip and leave for Ashville in the morning.

Tucker and I will report in on our visitations and provide some much needed information for this blog. It’s been too long without some wordage!

Papabear

My Annual Drink with Dad!! Craft Beer vs Macro!!

Today is my Dad’s 75th birthday. Or it would be if he were still with us. He passed away in ’98 and since then I have taken this day to drink a beer with him.  I don’t know if it’s to make up for all those I didn’t get to drink with him or just my way of remembering him, but wherever I am I hunt down his beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and drink it in his remembrance. Today I picked Gainesville House of Beer for this annual event.

Most of us probably learned about beer from our Dad’s. Even though there are lot more female beer drinkers today than have been (at least in the US) in the last couple hundred years, I would bet even most of them learned about beer from their Dad’s. The same way we learn a lot of things from our fathers, they do, we watch, we repeat.

That’s right son…now shake it a little bit…

I can remember as a kid helping Dad work on the car or some other work around the house and he would take a break and crack open a bottle or snap open a can, then slowly pour back the container and let it roll down  then would stop and tip his head back up and slowly let the beer roll around on his tongue before he swallowed it.  Then I would hear the inevitable, yet interesting “Aaaaaaahhh!”

I may not have known what he was having the first time I heard that sound but I certainly knew he was enjoying it. I catch myself doing the same thing occasionally. It’s that sound you make when you feel that quench being satisfied or the pang being quelled.

I just finished his PBR and am moving on to 3 Daughters Key Lime Cider because in Florida in July light and refreshing is the way to finish on a hot day.  Having said that while it did help cleanse my pallet it was not quite the “Aaaaaahhh!” I was hoping for.

You see there a couple others things I learned from Dad. He wasn’t afraid to try something new.. at least not when it came to beer. After I got back from the Air Force or any time I went up to PA on vacation we made it a point to at least go out to a bar together at least once and have at least one beer. And it was always a draft, never a bottle or can. I learned from him that draft beers usually taste better than packaged, something that usually still holds true today. At least for me. We also tried to find a beer that we hadn’t had before.

More than a few people have asked me if I thought my Dad would have liked Craft Beer or stuck with his go to. I can answer that easily. His go to beer was for sitting around the house on the weekend and doing odd chores like working on the car or helping relatives build something, or having with a family picnic. But whenever he and I went to a bar together we would always have something different. I get the tendency for that from him.

Me with my Nova SS and Dad with his Nash

Rowdy came in and joined me when the cider hit the bar in front of me. She stuck around and we philosphied a bit while supping suds. When I finished the cider I ordered an Old Rasputin Nitro, which I had had before but not as a nitro, which changes the texture of the beer certainly, but the flavor a little bit too.

I like the coffee flavor of Old Rasputin tempered slightly with the hint of chocolate, but when you add the nitro you take what could be to some a heavy feeling beer and add a nice malty feel to it. Now that’s the “Aaaaaaahhhhh!!!’ I was looking for.

So, Dad, I started this out with your go-to Macro beer, but ended up finishing it with a great Craft Beer I think you would have enjoyed trying with me. Order another round at that bar in the sky and give Mom a hug from me. Cheers!!

Papabear

Celebrate Independence!! with genuine Craft (Independent) Beer!

So if you have seen any of the latest Craft Beer related news lately you may have seen some hub-bub both from the Macro side of the aisle and from the Independent (formerly referred to as Craft) side of the aisle.

It all has to do with the newly created seal (see below) put out by the Brewers Association which can be used to differentiate between beers created by small independent brewers and those owned by the macro beer companies.

If you have been paying attention at all then you know that the Macros (which I will use to refer to AB InBev, Molson/Coors, Heineken International, Constellation Brands, and Pabst Brewing Company) have been trying to purchase Craft Breweries (and succeeding) on the sly to stop their bleeding loss of market share. At one point these Macros owned 99% of the world market share and pretty much 100% of the American market share. But in the last 20 or so years that share has fallen to 75-80% thanks to the renaissance of Craft Beer.

This trend is also starting gain a foothold in Europe and Asia as well, potentially leading to more losses for the Macros. To try and win back those they have lost to the Craft Beer movement, the Macros have started a campaign of purchasing craft breweries to add to their brand lines. AB InBev has actually called their craft brand line their High End line (visit their website if you don’t believe me). Of the 18 brands listed there Breckenridge, Goose Island, Leffe, Shock Top and Wicked Weed were all indepenedent brewers until recently. Molson/Coors purchased Terrapin Brewing, Constellation Brands purchased Ballast Point and Heineken International has recently purchased Lagunitas Brewing. All of these were known successful Brewing companies with a good following. These purchases are meant to enhance their already burgeoning portfolio of brands (see list of brands in link below).

Macro Beers (revised 7-2-2017)

FYI – This list is created with information pulled directly from the websites of these Macros.

The Brewer’s Association has decided to fight back to differentiate their brands from those controlled by the Macros by creating the above seal which Independent Brewers can place on their products so their will be easily identifiable to those folks who care about who they are buying their beer from.

Brewers Association seal on various products

The Macros have responded saying that these seals have nothing to do with beer quality and are misleading to the customer.

If the Macros were making quality beer to begin with then why have they lost such a huge chunk of market share? If the Macros were making quality product to begin with then why are their bolstering their brands by buying craft breweries? And why do they use bullying tactics with their distribution channels to keep Independent Craft Breweries from being able to reach more customers?

Budweiser, which is no longer an American owned brewing company, has once again this summer changed their labels to the brand name “America” to reinforce the idea that they are still the King of Beers. Kaaachhhkk!! Sorry something caught in my throat. Budweiser is about as American as the $5 tee-shirts made by children in Asian sweatshops.

Don’t get me wrong… this is still America and you are free to choose whatever beer you like. If any of the beers listed on the Macro list in the link above are your go-to beer then enjoy it to your hearts content. But don’t try to tell me that slapping the name “America” on a beer that, in my opinion, tastes like horse piss will make it any better.

And if you really want to be patriotic, then why not actually switch, or at least try drinking, a beer made by an American owned company and generating profits that benefit not only American workers but the communities they live in, your locally owned Independent Craft Brewer.

The United States was founded on the idea of freedom. Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom from Taxation without representation (okay – I’m finding that one hard to swallow sometimes too), are all basic tenets of the Constitution. I am sure that if some of the Founding Fathers were here today they would easily prefer the beer available at your local brewery than the watered down product mass-produced and filling the shelves at your local store or distributor.

Let freedom ring and hoist a glass to flavor and the right to choose it!!

Papabear

 

Craft Beer Stroganoff!

I love using alcohol based marinades!! And no it’s not because I am a drunk, that’s a separate topic altogether.

It’s because the alcohol in the product helps to tenderize the meat. It also Imparts some of the flavors of the product into the meat. And I like to use different products for different dishes.

I love using a good red wine to make my homemade marinara. The wine helps break up some of the acidity of the tomatoes.

I love making my Cowboy Baked Beans with a good bourbon, or a brandy depending on the other ingredients. The bourbon helps the molasses and brown sugar mix well with the navy beans and the beef or sausage.

When I make chili or beer batter I like to use a lager, pilsner or pale ale. They all mix well with the spices I put in. It doesn’t matter whether it’s beef, pork or turkey. Some of these also go well with fish marinade but that depends on the fish. Some fish need a stronger flavor.

Now, with Stouts, Porters, Barleywines, Old Ales and Scotch Ales I like to make either a BBQ sauce or use it for marinating beef. Beef needs a stronger flavor for a marinade and depending on the dish the higher alcohol content can help break down fats.

I have not made beef stroganoff in a while and this was the first time using a beer marinade. Usually I do a combination of Worcestershire and Soy Sauce for a marinade and only let it set for 20 minutes in the fridge. For this marinade I decided to use Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout for a couple reasons:

  1. It was the oldest stout in my fridge and I wanted to use it before it went bad.
  2. I liked the mouthfeel of this stout and thought it would lend itself well to the beef stroganoff.
  3. I tend to try to line up my beers in single file on the shelf and using this one would open up room for a new six pack. I know… Kinda OCD of me… but hey.. it’s my fridge. You arrange yours the way you want it and don’t worry about mine.
Pairs well with Ice Cream too!

So if you’re interested, the recipe is below. It was delicious by the way. So much so that the sauce from the stroganoff tasted so good I had to use biscuits to sop up the remainder.

Stout Marinade Beef Stroganoff served with a biscuit and paired with a Weyerbacher Tiny Imperial Stout

Stout Marinade Beef Stroganoff

This recipe is for crockpot cooking, so cooking time will be much less if you cook on the stove top.

Prep Time: Marinade overnight; Prep time before crock pot turns on 20 minutes; prep time for thickening sauce 5 mins; crockpot cook time 10 – 11 hours.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of cubed beef (chuck roast, steak or in my case kebab meat)
  • 1- 12 oz. bottle of your preferred Stout Beer
  • 2 large Vidalia onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb. of sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 2 carrots chopped into big sections
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground Thyme
  • 3 tbsp. Sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Chopped Parsley
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Place the beef in a stainless steel (or other equally suitable bowl) large enough to hold the beef and the bottle of beer. Make sure to cover the beef thoroughly in the beer and place a cover over the container and let in marinade in the refrigerator over night.

In the morning, chop onions into 1/4 to 1/2 inch squares and line bottom of crockpot. Place garlic on top. Take beef from marinade container and place into crock pot, keeping it from contacting sides. Place sliced mushrooms around beef between crock pot wall and beef. Place chopped carrot pieces and two bay leaves on top of beef. Pour any remaining marinade, Worcestershire, soy sauce and beef broth over beef. Cover crock pot and cook on low a minimum of 8 hours, maximum of 10 hours. Do not remove cover during cooking.

When the first stage is complete you can remove the carrots and bay leaves. You can set the carrots aside for something else but dispose of the bay leaves. Add the remaining ingredients as a thickener except mix the two cups of milk and the 2 tbsp of flour into a roué and stir into the mix. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook on low another 30 to 45 minutes and it will be ready for serving.

I like to serve on a bed of buttered wide egg noodles with a dollop of sour cream and some parsley sprinkled on top, accompanied by a biscuit and paired with a good stout. For the picture above I used the Weyerbacher Tiny Imp Stout, which went very well with the meal. Try these stouts or your own favorite in the recipe.

Papabear

Craft Beer’s Most Important Ingredient!!

You will hear many points of view on which grains to use, which hops or spices provide the best bittering, and which yeast works the best to attain a particular flavor. But you really don’t hear often enough the importance of the largest ingredient in any brew…. Water!

Dihydrogen Monoxide (Hoax), Aqua, Aqua Pura, tears, saliva, drink, rain, H2O or Adam’s Ale… No matter what you call it, it is the most important resource on the planet, perhaps in the universe. No known form of life can exist without it. It is one of the few elements that can change it’s form into multiple shapes and densities and resume it’s previous state.

As man’s knowledge of water has increased so has our culture and civilization advanced. Most of humanities growth, until the last century or so, has been alongside a rich water source. In ancient Greece it was considered on of the 4 basic elements (air, fire, earth and water), in ancient China that was five (earth, fire, wood, metal and water). It has a basis of reverence in many modern religions (Christian Baptism as an example) as well. It is used as an example of purity and strength in these religions as well as other philosophical arenas. (Do you wish to be as rigid and unforgiving as a stone, or as flexible yet powerful as water? The stone may assert it’s place for now, but in a thousand years the water with have cut a path through the stone. – paraphrasing)

It covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and can be found throughout the solar system and the universe in various forms. It can take the fluid form as in the rain, streams, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. It can exist in a gaseous state as in clouds, fog and steam. And it can be solid in a crystalline form as in snow and ice.

Mankind is becoming more and more reliant on finding resources or developing water cleansing technologies in order to survive. Water is our most valuable resource, no matter what some commodities brokers may want you to think. Our reliance on it as a natural resource has been demonstrated time and again throughout our history.

When Ancient Rome fell and Europe entered the Dark Ages, disease and famine were rampant throughout the continent.  Some of the knowledge of importance of water for farming, and medicine disappeared with the cultures that had discovered them, at least in Europe. Eventually the importance of clean water for drinking became known and the act of boiling to get clean drinking water evolved into brewing water with grains to help ration both the water and the grains. This eventually became the beers we know today.

As a beer connoisseur and a home brewer, I understand the importance of this natural resource for a hobby/subject that is near and dear to my heart. We use water for every aspect of beer making. We use it to brew the mash, we add more when we are doing the boil and adding the hops, the yeast preparation may require water for activating the yeast, and we may add more when we are mixing the bottling sugar in with the beer for carbonation. But more importantly, we rely on water to grow the ingredients we make beer with. Everything, from all of the grains, to the hops or other bittering agents, to the yeast for fermenting to the sugars rely on water for growth.

As a group, brewers more than anyone understand the importance of maintaining this resource as clean and available to all as possible. My day job is with a local municipal utility and through my 12 plus years in association with them I have really learned not only how much we as a society rely on this resource but how difficult it is to maintain a high quality of drinking water and how much harder it will be in the future. We have some of the best drinking water, not only in Gainesville, but also the State of Florida and the United States. Our community understands how important this resource is now and will be in the future.

Drinking_Water_week_2017_proclamation

The was a TV show on a few years ago called Heroes and one of the lines from that show was “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World!”

I’m going to paraphrase that now and give you a new Mantra to recite…

“Save the Water, Save the World, Save the Beer!”

Papabear

Art of Beer – Addendum: What’s All the Brew Ha Ha Over Beer Companies Buying Each Other Out??!!

The picture above is what a lot of Americans think that any activity related to beer is all about. Getting rowdy with your frat brothers at parties and smelling like stale beer. Sitting around watching sports and seeing who can belch the loudest and  longest, or seeing who pukes first from the results of a beer chugging game is one of the first pictures that comes to mind whenever the word “beer” is spoken aloud.

And to be fair, since the repeal of prohibition right up until the last decade or so that would not be an inaccurate depiction of most beer related activities in the U.S. Thanks mostly to marketing campaigns of a lot of the major brewing companies in America (Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Miller Brewing, Pabst, etc.) the light American Lager has become associated not only with those activities but others as well, most of which are usually pandering to the lesser qualities of mankind. These include lust, competitiveness, laziness, and a lack of propriety.

And that is the exact opposite of how a majority of the rest of the world views beer. For many other countries it is a beverage that can have as much prestige as some of the finest wines and liquors available. Especially if it is carefully and skillfully CRAFTED!

In America, thanks to industrialization, beer has had done to it what many other products have had done. Make the most economically feasible product, mass produce it and use advertising to shove it down the consumers throat. And since so few companies survived the dark years of prohibition only those that were mass producing other products were capable of coming back from the brink to begin producing beer again. And in the American business model the more you can make for a cheaper price the better your profits are.

But a little secret was revealed to many of us over the years. Some of us have had the opportunities to visit Europe or Asia or the Middle East and taste beers and other styles or the same style but in it’s original form. We were awakened to the fact that what we have had limited to by the corporate conglomerates was in fact crap! And when we came back to America from other countries and went to try out old reliable American staples we realized the truth… “My God!! This is shitty beer!!”

Luckily, in the late seventies, then President Jimmy Carter signed a bill making it legal for home brewing to begin again. Whatever else you may have thought of him as a president, this was one act that everyone can agree on was a good one.

With that act, the home brewing craze and the craft beer movement began. And for about 20 years that is exactly what it was, a fad or a craze that someone wanted to try. But eventually enough people not only stuck with it, but became very good at it and tried to do what many other American Entrepreneurs had done before them and turn a beloved hobby into a business they could make a living at. Some of these entrepreneurs are still at it today, Anchor Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Samuel Adams, and many others who have seen the rise of a revolution in taste as well as quality in process.

These companies which started out small have grown into larger companies by maintaining quality products and consistently trying to expand their skills in different styles of beer. Something the larger brewers have forgotten how to do.

With this industrious rise in Craft Brewing, there resulted the inevitable loss of market share to the big brewer’s. And how did the big brewers react? Did they rethink their brewing techniques and think about investing in higher quality products using better ingredients? Did they think about expanding the styles of beers that they brewed and trying to draw back some of the market share they lost through honest competition? I’m sure they thought about it.

But that isn’t what they did. Instead they came up with a two step approach:

Step 1 – Buy out the competition. Buy out successful craft brewers, learn how to produce their products for less money, and reproduce their beer labels under your brand. This method has been the Grim Reaper of many venues of American industry. The problem with this is that is doesn’t work well. Quite often quality suffers and the customers you hoped to win back can tell and find a new brewer to follow.

This has not helped the big brewers gain any more craft beer fans, but it has helped them to gain in other ways. Recently the founder of Sam Adams Brewing publicly stated that over 90% of the beer made in the world is owned by two companies both European Conglomerates who own not only most of the breweries on every continent but also a lot of the distribution companies. AB-InBev and Heineken N.V. own companies in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America. Leaving only Antarctica as unclaimed territory.

Step 2 – Strangle their supply chain. If they won’t sell out to you then make it difficult or impossible for them to get the ingredients to make beer and even harder to get their beers to market.

These two conglomerates have repeatedly tried buying out hops and grain markets in efforts to stifle the supplies for others to make beers. And when that didn’t work they put a stranglehold on the distribution by buying out a lot of the distributing companies, or giving monetary incentives for their products to get top billing. These companies have been reading the robber-baron’s handbook and instead of creating new games just gave a wink-wink nudge-nudge to the concerned lawmakers who failed to stop them.

So to answer the question in the article title – the “Brew Ha Ha” over the beer companies buying the others out has nothing to do with the beers they originally made. And really not even with the beers being made buy those that have sold out to them. No matter what happens there will still be folks who like all of those beers and will want to purchase and consume them. We are after all creatures of habit.

The problem is that if the trend keeps going as it is, eventually new craft breweries will no longer be built. The ability to choose from over 5000 breweries and tens of thousands of different beers will disappear. Craft beer is going to be changing, whether we like it or not. Craft breweries will have get even more inventive with their “Think outside the box” strategy to continue to exist.

The good news is this:

  1. Thinking outside the box is what craft brewers do best.
  2. The Genie is already out of the bottle. Home brewing is alive and well and will continue to be so. Larger Craft production breweries may not continue any growth, but the little guys who just want to brew and share with the locals will always find a way to do so.

Papabear

 

The Art of Beer Pt 6 – Food Pairing (What Goes With What) – A Beer Pairing Dinner at the Top Restaurant

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If you have read my other articles on the Art of Beer then you have read me quote my old wine tasting teacher and Sommelier, George Sternfels, when he said, “If you like the wine, drink the wine!”

George Sternfels

Now when he said this what he meant was that taste is a very personal choice. How you, or I or anyone else tastes the exact same thing could be completely different. In the end what matters is that you like what you are drinking. He also commented on the general rule that reds are for pork or beef and whites are for fish or chicken. He said, “I have a preference for reds and if I’m eating fish I may not want a white, so I’ll order a red.” But he also knew that certain flavors complemented each other. Certain whites go along much better with a dessert than others, and some reds enhance the spice in a particular dish while others may cover it up.

The same is very true of beer, especially craft beer. But even ordinary American Style Lagers go better with some foods more than others. I can remember for years that I loved lagers with hamburgers or hot dogs or pizza, and of course pretzels, But I have never been able to drink beer while eating pasta without feeling all bloated and unable to do anything else after. You may have experienced the same problem, if not with pasta then with another food.

Now with the rise of craft beer and the multitude of flavors and styles that came with it the opportunity to find a beer that I can eat with pasta has come, not to mention all of the other food and beer combinations that are now available.

The one thing to remember is that when we combine all of these different flavors, what we are really doing is creating new chemical compounds that will react differently with each other. When you are tasting food, what is happening is the chemicals in the food are reacting with the chemicals on your tastes buds to activate certain flavor sensors in your brain. When you drink a liquid with that food then our taste buds are reacting again to a different chemical combination. That’s why when you drink water after eating really spicy-hot foods it makes it worse because the water is simply spreading the flavor around even more in your mouth, but if you eat cheese or drink milk this dissipates the heat from the spice and lets you continue with your eating.

Certain beers go better with spicy foods, and others complement sweet foods better. Some beers are too strong for chicken or fish, and others can’t stand up to beef or wild game.

Two excellent examples just happened recently. The first involves my own homemade marinara sauce. I like to use wine, preferably red, and a little honey in my sauce. This gives it a little sweetness and helps cut down on some of the acidity of the tomatoes. And the wine also imparts its own flavor into the sauce. I used a little bit of a bottle of Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, which is a very fruity medium bodied Italian wine which I really enjoy. It was also one of the last bottles I purchased back when I was taking the above mentioned wine tasting classes from George and since he has since passed I had been holding onto it as long as possible. But it was a 2009 vintage and I wouldn’t be able to hold onto it too much longer so I decided to use it to make the sauce a few weeks ago and had the rest with dinner.

Now a couple of weeks later I had some leftover sauce that I took out of the freezer and served over a couple of veal parmesan patties. I had spent the day working in the yard and decided to treat myself to a rich dinner afterwards. I wanted to treat myself to a nice beer with dinner but wasn’t sure which to serve. I narrowed it down between two choices, Boulevard Brewing’s Sixth Glass, which is a very nice and smooth Belgian Quad, and Founder’s Brewing Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale, which is a great Scotch Ale. I decided that I want to go with one of these because they are both a little higher in alcohol and that might help bring out some of the wine flavor.

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And since I was having a hard time deciding I decided to start the dinner with one and finish it with the other. I started with the Belgian, and was really pleasantly surprised at how well it paired with the homemade red sauce. I was right about the higher alcohol content bringing out the wine flavor of the sauce. But the hoppy flavors also complimented the veal and the sauce.

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The Scotch Ale came next and like the Belgian, the higher alcohol content brought out the wine flavor, but the scotch flavor did not compliment the red sauce. It did not make the sauce taste bad, nor did the sauce affect the ale flavor, but they just didn’t pop like the Belgian/Red Sauce combination did.

Now, I will confess that I like both of these ales independently very much. I have been fortunate lately to come across some really good Belgians and have come to enjoy that style a lot more lately than before. And the Wee Heavy or Scotch Ales have been really outstanding in their own rights for the last couple of years. I also have to confess to a preconception going in that the Scotch Ale would fare better than the Belgian. I really like the products that have been coming out of Founders Brewing over the last few years and can’t remember one lately that I did not like. Generally speaking, while I really enjoy both styles I would have to admit leaning toward the Scotch Ale more than the Belgian.

But why, when pairing them with very tasty veal parmesan, did the Belgian pair better? And why did the Scotch Ale not pair so well with this dish when I really like that ale so much?

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The second example also happened recently and involved a Beer Pairing dinner, hosted by the Top Restaurant in Gainesville, and featuring a line-up of some excellent beers from Founders Brewing, the same company that made the above mentioned scotch ale. If you’ve been in Gainesville very long then you must have been to the Top, And you are probably well aware of the fact that they can cook anything from a burger to a traditional gourmet dish with equal zest and triumph. It is probably one of the best restaurants in town, if not in the state of Florida.

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Like some other Pairing dinners I have been to featuring wine, this was a five course dinner, with each course paired with a different flavor or style of beer from this particular brewery. They also had a welcoming beer to introduce you to what Founders is. And the beer they used for that was the All Day IPA, a really great smooth tasting IPA. The young lady who is the North Florida representative for Founders, I believe her name is Kelly, gave the dinner guests a brief history of Founders and how they came to be and with each beer style she gave a little background on how it came about.

After she did her intro they began bringing out the first course and the beer that would accompany it.

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The first course was a Goat Cheese and Corn Soup with a Crab Beignet. And the beer paired with it was the recent release called Devil Dancer IPA. This IPA had a bit more hoppiness to it than the All Day, but it complimented the sweet and creamy flavor of the soup and the beignet very well.

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The second course was a Fried Farmer’s Egg, Roasted red Pepper Butter Sauce, Asparagus and Micro Mizuna. It was paired with the Founders Mosaic Promise Single Hop Ale. I am not generally a big asparagus fan but I can eat it. But the red pepper sauce and the Farmer’s egg both helped it go down and the Mosaic helped bring out some of the spiciness of the pepper sauce.

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The third course was Sweat Pea Ravioli with Tomato Confit and was served with Founders Curmudgeon Old Ale. I really like old ales and this is one of the better ones out there. And it complimented the flavors of the sweet peas and the tomato confit very well. And I did not get that full feeling from eating the pasta with a beer.

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The fourth (and the main course) was a Pork tenderloin served on top of Smoked Gouda Grits with a Red Eye Jus and accompanied by Fava Beans. The paired beer was Founders KBS Bourbon Stout (Kentucky Breakfast Stout). It’s brewed with chocolate and coffee and aged in oak barrels for a year, and is very much worth the wait. And when paired with the dinner grew on me even more than before.

The oaky flavor complimented the pork and helped bring out the smoke gouda flavor in the grits. And the chocolate/coffee combo went really well with the red sauce.

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Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, they brought out the dessert course. It was Toasted Coconut Panna Cotta, Pineapple & Mint Salsa, Grilled Pineapple and Mango, Mint Oil and Pina Colada Ice Cream. It was paired with Founders Mango Magnifico Fruit Beer. I have to say, normally I don’t like coconut in any form. The texture makes me want to gag, and the flavor reminds me of the texture. But this combination of flavors with the dessert, especially when paired with the mango beer was so excellent a combination that the texture didn’t even faze me.

I have to say if the opportunity comes again for another beer pairing dinner, either at the Top or featuring Founders beers, count me in!

But why did these beers from Founders all pair well why the Dirty Bastard I served with my veal parmesan at home not do so well?

The answer is Balance.

balance

Certain flavors and interactions arise in certain styles of beer and these need to be counterbalanced in the food to complement each other.

For example, Hop Bitterness and Roasted Malt flavors and a higher alcohol content or carbonization balance well with sweetness, savory and fat content. That is why some of the heavy ales that have been brewed with bacon tasted well, or cooked well with it.

Sweet or Malty beers balance well against spicy foods or high acidity.

And Hoppy beers balance well against spicy foods.

So the reason the Belgian went well with my homemade red sauce and veal parmesan is that hoppiness and higher alcohol content helped to balance out the sweet and savory flavors I had working in the sauce.

While the heavy ale had the alcohol content to battle the flavors it had too much of the oakiness to blend well with the other flavors.

A friend from work, Steven, came with me to the dinner and he is not quite the beer connoisseur that I am. I don’t think he liked the Old Curmudgeon or the Mango Magnifico as much as I did, but he did agree that when he tried it with the food served with them that he liked them better.

So if there is a beer out there you don’t care for as much as you do others, there may be hope if someone has served an appropriate food flavor to go along with it.

But in the end, I’ll still stick with George’s advice with one caveat…

If you like the beer, drink the beer. If it doesn’t pair well, then change the food.

Papabear