The Art of Beer Part 3 – Beer Styles


Lager, Ale, Belgian, Gose, Porter, Stout, ESB, Common…. All of these different names floating around out there to describe beer. If you’re a newcomer to the craft beer scene it could be overwhelming. Especially when your exposure to beer has been limited to what your Dad has been drinking from the local grocery/convenience store/beer distributor.

Let’s start with the basics and move on from there. Beers at their core are primarily categorized into two basic types: Lagers and Ales. And the main significant difference between these two types is the yeast used to convert the sugars in the wort to alcohol and the temperatures at which this is done.

Lager yeasts work at the bottom half of the wort and are much more efficient at cooler temperatures. Ale yeasts work on the top of the wort and while they still need moderate temperatures to work are much more room temperature friendly than Lager yeasts. Both impart different flavors onto the beer. And while this is usually the defining factor in determining an ale from a lager there are some variants out there where someone has tried brewing an ale recipe with a lager yeast and vice versa, and where lager yeasts are used but at higher temps, or ale yeasts at lower temps. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

The brewing of Lager is actually more difficult that Ale because of the need for lower temperatures, both for fermentation and storage. But that also means that because of the easier temps to work with there are many more variations of beer varieties available with Ales.

Lager Styles

Lagers are generally classified by the modern Bavarian (Southern Germany) Styles available today. They generally break down into either a pale lager (or Helles) or a dark lager (Dunkel). Pilsners, while being a pale lager are generally classified differently because of the additional amount of hops used to create a different flavor. Bocks are stronger and darker versions of lagers. Marzens are lagers brewed in March (Marz in German) when the last brewing of beer was allowed, and can vary in color and taste. Schwarzbier (or Black Beer) is a dark lager made from roasted malts, similar to a Stout in ales.

And each of these styles of lagers will have some variations on them as well. Most of the popular mass market beers available worldwide today are lagers.

Ale Styles

Ales are brewed at a higher, more temperate, temperature range than lagers which results in a sweeter, more full-bodied taste. Historically the term ale referred to a drink brewed without hops. Originally, the bittering and preserving agent used was gruit, a mixture of herbs and spices added to the wort before fermentation. Later on hops replaced gruit as the bittering agent. Ale styles generally get their names from the English culture from which many of them were developed in. Brown Ales get their name from their dark amber or brown color. Mild Ale is a maltier, lower gravity beer. Old Ale is also malty, but dark colored and a higher ABV than Mild Ales. Pale Ales get their name from the predominantly pale malt used to brew them. Porters and Stouts are made using roasted malt and roasted barley, the Stout usually being a stronger version of a Porter. And Wheat Beer get their name from the high percentage of wheat used along with malted barley to make it.

There are other varieties within these styles that you will encounter, and that will be covered in a later article. Some even cross the lines a little bit by combining different methods. The rules are not so hard and fast as some might like to make you think and brewers are constantly experimenting for new taste variations.

Whatever may arise, give them a try and you may find yourself surprised.


Painting with a Twist…. And Craft Beer!


The Doctor texted me after work on Friday and told me that he and Rowdy were going to Painting With A Twist that night. They had a special class that was featuring Swamp Head Brewery and would include some free samples of the local brewery’s wares. I asked him what time and he told me the class started at 7 but you want to get there at 6:45 to get prepared.

Now, if you have never heard of Painting with a Twist it’s an art based business where you and some of your friends go and learn to paint a specific drawing or painting and while you are doing that you can consume wine which you bring yourself, which is the Twist part.

If you are older guy, like me, there is probably a misogynistic archaic portion of your brain that is thinking “Sounds like a chick thing.”, or something similar. And I confess when Rowdy had told me about the business a while back that was my natural, albeit Cro-Magnon, reaction.


But this evening they were not only featuring beer, but Craft Beer from Swamp Head, which is one of our local breweries in Gainesville. And after thinking about it some more, why would I not want to hang out around a bunch of women imbibing in beer and wine.


The Doctor also sent me a pic of his current location, the BrassTap, so I made sure the dog was walked, changed out of my work duds and headed out to join him.

When I got to BrassTap, I saw both father and son, Allan and Brad, were working behind the bar. I wasn’t sure what I wanted so Allan recommended the Terrapin Hopsecutioner (w/ Tangerine and Lemon Peel). I gotta admit it was pretty damn good, and this is from someone who is not as big a fan of IPAs as other people, like Allan, are. It definitely had a hoppy flavor which should satisfy anyone looking for that taste, but it didn’t have the harsh aftertaste that some IPAs have. I would definitely drink it again. It was also nice to score two more badges on the Untappd app.

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The Doctor and I sat around Philosophying and catching up with each other, then I was ready for another so I ordered the Erie Brewing Ol’ Red Cease and Desist. This was a Scotch style ale with a mild rye flavor and very little aftertaste. It was a good Scotch ale but not the best I have had.


When I was finished with that one it was time to go and both the Doctor and I wanted to grab a bite before we got there. Luckily for us the studio is located right next door to McAlister’s Deli off of Newberry Road in Gainesville. So we stopped there and got a sandwich before we went to the class.

Rowdy met us there and went ahead to the class to make sure we were all seated together, while the Doctor and I wolfed down our food. And I have to point out that is really a shame because McAlister’s makes some pretty tasty sandwiches.

When we finished we walked around the corner to the studio and walked in and waited in line to pay for the evening class. After we paid we were handed our canvas and went into the studio and found Rowdy already decked out in her painting apron and saving two more for us along with our seats.


When you arrive they have each seat equipped with the easel for your canvas, the brushes you will need, a large plastic cup with water for washing out the brushes (obviously we were using acrylic paints), and a palette with premeasured samples of the paints we would be needing for the evening. Ok, to be honest the “palettes” were actually paper plates, but when you are working with large numbers of people like this it makes more sense to use paper plates or you would end up having to clean off all of the palettes after every class.

And this particular class was pretty full already. And while it may have sounded misogynistic earlier, the class was made up of a majority of women. But there were a few other men there as well so the Doctor and I were not the only ones attending.


Around the studio were the various paintings that had been done before for earlier classes and I saw some that I liked a lot. They represented a wide variety of styles. Not being an expert in Art I will not try to pass myself off as one on here.

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And before class began we were encouraged to help ourselves with a sample from the cooler that Swamp Head had provided for the event that evening. Their canned fare was available to us, which meant we could choose from Stump Knocker Pale Ale, Big Nose IPA, Wild Night Cream Ale and Cottonmouth Belgian Witbier. Unfortunately, my favorite of their year-round offerings was not there, Midnight Oil Oatmeal Coffee Stout. So I selected the Cottonmouth for my first sample. If you haven’t had it before, then you should as it is a nice clean witbier with just the right flavor.

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When the time arrived, our teacher, Katie (who I found out later is also the studio manager for Gainesville), began talking about the studio and explaining how things were set up and whether you had been there before or not that you would still end up enjoying yourself. She introduced her assistant for the evening, Holly, who would be going around and helping where she was needed.

Katie and Holy being Photo=bombed by the Doctor.
Holly and Katie being Photo-bombed by the Doctor.

Then she talked a little bit about the painting we would be doing that evening, the Swamp Head logo. And she introduced Nick Dunn, who is the Director of Operations at Swamp Head. He stood up and spoke a little bit about Swamp Head’s history and about what the logo represented and what the company believed in. I won’t try and quote him here. You can go the Swamp Head website and read that for yourself here:


After he was done he sat back done with the other patrons who were painting. And Katie then mentioned some of the nice swag he brought along would be given away during various little contests throughout the night. This perked Rowdy’s ears up as she is all about the swag.


So we began class by discussing the brushes and the paints and how to use them during the course of the evening. Then we started working on the background for the painting first. Now while I said I am no art expert, I have done some artwork over the years, mostly for my own enjoyment. But I usually just work in sketching, either with pencils or charcoal. And in that I usually work on the object of the drawing first and then fill in the background later. So this is a different way of thinking for me.


Now, I am not going to go into the details of each step we took in the process as reading about it would not be the same as experiencing it. I will say that Katie was a good teacher in that she took her time explaining how to do what we needed to do and pacing the class so that everyone could catch up. She even worked in a couple of 5 minute breaks so we could stand and stretch. I will say that I was very glad to see that they had a camera on the easel that she worked off of and displayed it on a big screen TV in the back of the room, where we were. It made it much easier to see what she was doing and describing.

And Holly was very helpful throughout the evening as well, making sure folks had enough of the various colors we were using, pointing out ways to help out the students, and giving encouragement as she went along.

Both of these young ladies were very good at their job and you could tell they enjoyed doing it. I would recommend asking for them when you go. I know Rowdy wants to do her birthday party there and them to teach the class.


A little more than halfway through the class I decided to get another sample and selected the Stump Knocker Pale Ale this time. It’s also a refreshing beer and probably my favorite of the year-rounds just after the Midnight Oil and Wild Night.

The contests throughout the night included posting a pic to social media and checking in at Painting with a Twist, the one receiving the most likes wins, another included painting temporary tattoos on each other and having a pairs contest to see which pair of tats had the best symmetry. And there was another but I don’t remember what it was. We didn’t win any of them but we still had fun.

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A young couple who sat across the table from us had brought their own wine and was sampling it and really didn’t know anything about Swamp Head. The young man came up to me and asked what beers were good. I told him that they were all good but it depended on what kind of beer style he liked. I asked him what he normally drank and he responded that he wasn’t a big beer drinker but he liked the usual stuff. I guessed that he meant a normal American Lager and steered him toward the Wild Night Cream Ale. I didn’t want to throw him into the deep end of the pool with an IPA or a Stout. He said that it tasted pretty good, so we may have discovered another convert to craft beer.


In your face Macro!!

During the whole class music played in the background of a variety of artists, but I especially enjoyed listening to Darius Rucker’s Wagon Wheel, the Spinner’s Rubber Band Man, and a lot of older hits and quite a few of us were actually singing along.

A lot of picture taking took place at the end both by the patrons and the staff and the staff also took pictures throughout the night and later posted them Facebook. The two hours spent at the class went by fast and when we were done we all hand a painting to take home with us. I’m thinking I will hang mine in the brew house I plan on building later on.

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So all I can say is if you get an invite to go to Painting With A Twist then you should take the opportunity to go. Or make an opportunity yourself. You learn something new, get to meet new people, have a little alcohol and just enjoy yourself a lot.


Cooking with Beer: Glazes with a Beer Base

A ham with cloves for flavor in the background and Nettles country Sausages in the foreground,
A ham with cloves for flavor in the background and Nettles Country Sausages in the foreground.

I haven’t fired up the smoker in a while and decided today would be the day. I had a ham in the fridge I have been wanting to put in the smoker for a bit but haven’t had any wood for smoking until I finally went to Walmart and picked up some hickory wood chunks. Tip #1: If you need to go to Walmart on a Sunday, do it so you’re out of there before Noon. It was kind of quiet when I got there but by the time I got all of my goods and headed for the checkout it was a cluster.

When I got home I put some of the hickory chunks in a bucket and filled it with water then started cleaning the grill and getting it ready for a fire. I then started a fire under the chimney containing the charcoal briquettes and went inside to prep the ham while the briquettes started heating up. I removed the wrapping from a simple shoulder ham and began piercing the flesh with some cloves, and old trait of my mother’s. I was beginning to feel a bit peckish so I opened up a pack of Nettles Country Sausage while I was at it. I could cook those fairly quickly and let the ham cook at the same time.

Now if you have never used a smoker before it takes practice to learn how to keep your smoker at the right temperature. Too hot and you’ll over cook the outer part of the meat. And too cold and you risk bacteria getting into the food that you are cooking because you’re taking too long. And every style of smoker has its own way of controlling the temperature, though in general it usually involves controlling how much air you let into the fire and how much smoke you let out. If you don’t have a smoker and only have a gas or charcoal grill you can still use them for smoking you just have to use the right accessories to do so. Tip #2: Don’t try smoking indoors in your oven. The smoke smell will permeate every part of your house and you’ll be forever getting that smell out of the oven. It will make everything you cook after that tastes like smoke and unless you smoke cigarettes that is probably not a good thing. Even using the artificial smoke flavoring can let the smoke smell permeate the oven.

My combination gas/charcoal; grille and smoker hard at work.

You read earlier that I was using hickory for my smoking wood. There are several different types out there; Cherry, Pecan, Oak, Applewood and Mesquite are a few. I prefer hickory myself. Though I may try others down the road as they all have different characteristics. But I just really like the flavor that hickory leaves in the meat.

The charcoal coals were glowing red then so I knew it was time to put the meat on the grill. I arranged the ham on tin foil shaped to catch any drippings like a bowl and placed it on the grill furthest from the flame box. Then I laid out the sausages on the half closest to the flame. This would allow them to take the brunt of the heat so they could cook faster. With the lid closed the ham would also get heated and begin cooking. After I closed the lid I opened the door of the fire box and added a few chunks of hickory that had been soaking in water. The red hot coals began converting any water trapped in the wood to steam and the wood itself slowly began to burn releasing the smoky flavor I was looking for.

Inside the firebox
Inside the firebox

After about 15-20 minutes I rolled the sausages 180 degrees and let the other side get some of the heat from the fire. Then after 15-20 minutes I flipped the sausages end to end so that the end furthest from the firebox got some equal treatment. I also moved the sausages around on the griddle so those in the middle were swapped with those on the outside. And about 15 minutes later I rolled the sausages 180 degrees again. Each time after I opened the lid I added a couple chunks of wet hickory to the firebox.

After the sausages were cooked I removed them from the grill and slid the ham onto the side of the grill closer to the firebox. I put a couple more chunks of wood into the firebox then went inside and had a sausage for my lunch. If you have never had a Nettles sausage then I recommend them. They’re very tasty and if you like heat then the hot ones are for you. I like mine in a roll or sausage bun with a slice of cheddar and some mustard. I decided to drink a Shotgun Betty Witbier with my lunch which went with the sausage very well. Tip #3 Nettles sausages go very well with a witbier.

I spent the rest of the afternoon adding a couple of Hunks of wet wood to the firebox every 20 minutes or so, and supping down a nice saison while doing so. About 3 hours into cooking the ham I knew I needed to make my glaze. Now normally I make a pineapple-brown sugar glaze. But I didn’t have any pineapple juice or pineapples in either the whole or canned form to get juice from. So I decided to make a glaze with a craft beer base instead. Tip #4 When you run out of ingredients improvise with Craft Beer.

Now I know some folks have talking up Craft Beer marinades and I have used a couple myself but I have not heard of anyone making a glaze yet. Glazes are different from a marinade. First of all the marinade soaks into the meat helping to tenderize it. A Glaze is an outer coating that only imparts flavor to that portion of the meat. After cooking the juices from the meat combined with the glaze make a nice little topping for the meat.

My normal pineapple-brown sugar glaze is pretty much just that: pineapple juice, brown sugar and some mustard to balance out the sweetness. I lso place the pineapple rings around the ham with toothpicks. A good glaze compliments the meat so for a ham which is normally saltier a sweet glaze is desirable. But adding a craft beer base to the glaze instead of pineapple juice would change the flavor aspects depending on the style of beer used. A strong hop flavor with it’s bitterness would probably amplify the saltiness of the ham which isn’t what I wanted so that filtered out IPAs, APAs, etc. I also had to take into account the hickory smoke flavor I have been adding all afternoon. I still wanted to taste that flavor so I decided against a wheat beer or a gose as those would probably dampen the smoke flavor.

I was leaning toward either a porter or a stout when I realized I had the perfect accompaniment already selected… a scotch style ale. And to be more specific, Founder’s Dirty Bastard scotch style ale. I can hear some folks out there now, “What on Earth are you thinking?! Why waste such a great beer on something like a glaze?!”

To you I will reply, any great recipe is only as good as the ingredients you put into it. And anything that deserves to be done well should be done right from the beginning. Besides, whether it’s in a glass or a glaze I’m still going to be consuming that beer.

I’ll tell you the ingredients now:

Mustard, Brown Sugar, a bottle of founder's Dirty Bastard and a bowl and whisk for mixing.
Mustard, Brown Sugar, a bottle of founder’s Dirty Bastard and a bowl and whisk for mixing.
  • 4 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 oz. scotch ale
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard

Now I will add the disclaimer that these measurements are ballpark and not exact. I’ve been making the normal glaze for so long than I kind of eyeballed the ingredients. The best practice though is to taste the glaze as you’re making it and adjust the ingredients accordingly.

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First I put the brown sugar into a large enough bowl for mixing then I added the beer and using a whisk mixed them thoroughly. This combination became expectedly frothy and foamy once the sugar began dissolving. On top of the foam I added the yellow mustard. You can use ground mustard in place of the paste I used but then you may want to add a dash of vinegar to get the same flavor. Then I mixed this in thoroughly with the beer-sugar combo.


By the time this was done mixing it was time to start the last half hour of smoking. So I took the glaze and began applying it with a silicone brush trying to cover as much of the ham with the glaze as I could. Once I had that applied I loaded the last of the wet wood chunks into the firebox and let the smoker do its thing. I took any unused glaze back inside the kitchen and set it aside for later.

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When the smoking was done I placed the smoked ham in a dish for carving and poured any of the glaze that in the bottom of the tin foil I had cooked the ham in on top of the ham in the dish. The ham carved fairly easily, even through the caramelizing on the skin section where the glaze has made it chewy. Once I got done carving I placed a couple of pieces on a plate and served it with the remainder of the Founder’s Dirty Bastard in a mug. If I have to say so myself, it was delicious!

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The hickory flavoring came through in each bite of the ham and the glaze complemented it well. I could taste the sweetness of the sugar, the spice of the mustard and the dark malty flavor of the scotch ale. None of the flavors over-powered another. Well worth the effort and the wait.

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Good results like this can only lead to more experimentation.  Try some yourself and…

Tip @#5




Predictions for the coming year in Craft Beer


Okay, so “Predictions” is probably too strong a word to use for this particular article. Why don’t we try “Intuitive Guesses” instead, as some of what I will put down into words this time will be 100 % accurate and some, at best will be 50/50.

Let’s throw a 100 percenter out first…

ABInBev will purchase more craft breweries around the US this year. BAM!!

Okay, that was an easy one, especially considering they keep making overtures to multiple breweries. And I believe I read that they stated in their corporate newsletter something to the same effect. So if it is really a surprise to anyone that they will continue this strategy you need to wake up and change your name to Rip Van Get-a-clue.

100 percenter #2…

New Craft Breweries will keep opening throughout the year. BAM!

During recent months craft breweries have been opening at a rate of almost two a day nationally. Even if the Macro Brewers keep purchasing Craft Breweries they won’t be able to outpace that rate. So there will be even more new beers for all of us to try out there.

In fact I have read that Gainesville will be on the receiving end of a new brewery by the name of Rainstorm Brewing in the coming year. We will also be home to a new brew Pub with a Micro Brewery as part of the business, called Blackadder Brewing, supposedly this May.

50/50 percenter #1…

New Craft Beer Tap Rooms and businesses will continue opening up throughout the year. BAM!!

Again this is not news to me as I have already read or heard about this from other local sources. Gainesville recently received a Buffalo Wild Wings which will serve craft beers alongside the macro beers that most sports establishments feature. World of Beer, which has a business west of Gainesville in the Town of Tioga is opening a new business (I believe with a different franchisee) in Gainesville just off of Archer road at the old Hooters location. Hopefully there will be others as well.

100 percenter #3…

Beerfests will abound. BAM!

Okay, I did that one with my eyes closed. But they weren’t closed when I got invites to the FBG Beerfest in March and the Hogtown Craft Beerfest in April. And you can be sure there will others I will try to attend throughout the year. Maybe even outside of Florida this year.

50/50 percenter #2…

Social acceptance of craft beer and those who consume it will continue to grow. At first craft beer lovers were referred to as Beer Geeks, but as more people become introduced to it I believe more people will appreciate the different styles and flavors that are available to them. Two years ago you saw an increase in ciders and meads. Last year you witnessed the rise of barrel aged and sour beers. I am hoping Porters and Stouts will begin coming back stronger, but that is a personal preference, not a prediction.

I believe social acceptance will grow because more and more craft breweries are becoming involved in community events and charities. Yoga classes, Wildlife and Environmental Charity Events, Political Fundraisers, and other fundraisers for various charities are constantly popping at breweries and brew houses. I don’t see that trend waning, in fact I see the opposite happening.

So that is my Craft Beer Pred… umm… Intuitive Guesses for the coming year.

Oh yes… here is one more. One last 100 percenter…

I believe I’ll have another. BAM!!





Just another Craft Beer Friday in Gainesville!

Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale at the Lagunitas Beer tasting at Lucky's Market
Lagunitas’ Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale at the Lagunitas Beer tasting at Lucky’s Market

If your town is like Gainesville then you are probably finding yourself overwhelmed with decisions to make about where to get your Craft Beer needs fulfilled. Here we have had within the last two weeks Swamp Head Brewery’s 8th birthday party, Crafty Bastard’s 1st anniversary, multiple tap takeovers and charity fund raising with pints at various locations, like Brass Tap and Gainesville House of Beer. Even the Hoggetown Medieval Faire had their first weekend and they featured a Craft Beer tent this year(see pics below).


LEJ Pretzel
LEJ Pretzel
First Magnitude Beers featured along with others at the Hoggetown Medieval Faire
First Magnitude Beers featured along with others at the Hoggetown Medieval Faire

I decided to start my weekend a little different. As anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook may remember, I usually go to Lucky’s Market in Gainesville on Wednesdays so I can have a sample of craft beer at their little bar and take advantage of the double coupon day (Sales from prior week and week ahead are both valid on that day). I didn’t make it on that Wednesday because I knew they were having a beer tasting on that Friday that I wanted to attend.

I have had a couple of different samples of Lagunitas Brewing’s beers before and what I had I liked. So being able to try something from them I hadn’t had before appealed to me greatly. Plus beer tastings featuring a particular brewery can tell you a lot about the folks making the beers.

I arrived at Lucky’s right around 4, when it was starting and the young lady repping the company and pouring the beers was finishing setting up. There was quite a display of swag on the counter (see pic below).

Lagunitas Swag
Lagunitas Swag

When she finally got ready to pour there was myself and a few other people at the counter. I sampled Laguntas beers in the following order: Lagunitas Pils – a very sincere tribute to Czech Pilsners (below left); Lagunitas Sucks – a very strong scent of pine in the aroma but a very smooth Double IPA (below right); Lagunitas a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ which is a pretty good smooth tasting wheat ale (pictured at top of article); and a Lagunitas Maximus which was also a very smooth tasting Double IPA (pictured second down below); and I also had a sample of the Lagunitas IPA which I had had before but figured what the heck – I was there, it was there…

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When I had had my first sample about half way down, lo and behold the Chemist arrived and joined me at the counter, then about halfway into the next sample Rowdy showed up. So the Philosophying would begin earlier this evening. We sat around sampling and catching up for a bit. looking over the Swag available and realizing we had better get some before it all disappeared. After a bit Chemist got a text from the Deck-Orator that she was done with work so he went to retrieve her and they would meet me at Gainesville House of Beer later on.

I stuck around a bit more and gabbed with Rowdy and before long one of her friends from roller-derby stopped by and they began conversing. During that time Rowdy and I both overheard the manager say he had some bottles of Kentucky Bourbon Stout that had been held back for someone to pick up and it had been too long and he put them on the counter for folks to take up and purchase. So Rowdy and I each got a bottle to take with us. SCORE!!


After a bit I figured I needed to head out and said goodbye to Rowdy as she wasn’t joining us that evening. So I grabbed my bottle of KBS and walked by the chip area and grabbed a couple of snacks for the continuing happy hour at HOB, then walked to the cashier, paid and went.

By the time I got to HOB the lot next to it was full so I parked in the downtown garage, grabbed the two bags of chips and headed over to HOB. I saw Chemist and Deck-Orator had a table so I walked over and greeted them, set my chips down and went to the bar for the first actual pint of the evening. I ran into the Chemist son, J, while I was there and realized we would be a foursome which was good because that meant I would eat less chips.

For my first pint of the evening, I decided because of the influence of the Lagunitas samples earlier that I wanted a Pilsner, so I ordered the Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner (see pic below). This was a nice Pilsner but not as good as the Lagunitas sample I had had earlier.


With the chips I had brought the Pilsner went down pretty easy so I decided to order something with a little more kick to it. Alex, the manager at HOB asked me what I was having and I said, “I’m in the mood for a little Insanity.” To which he replied, “I like the way your thinking!” and went back and poured a Weyerbacher Insanity (see pic below), which is a barleywine. I have to say, I have had some barleywines that make you want to shave your tongue, and others, like this one that taste really good and smooth and have a nice little kick.


We worked on our respective drinks and philosophied some more then thoughts began working on dinner ideas. Someone suggested the Top, which we were all for, so we settled up our tabs and walked across the street and around the corner. Unfortunately the wait for seating was over an hour and I’m not one for waiting that long to eat. Someone suggested we maybe try Emiliano’s or another spot downtown and see what we could come up with. I liked that idea and hadn’t been to Emiliano’s in a while so we headed out in that direction.

When we got there, they weren’t quite full yet and had a wait if we wanted to sit inside but could be seated right away if we wanted to sit outside. It was cool out but not intolerable so we chose outside and were quickly seated. The Deck-Orator and the Chemist were leaning toward wine with the meal but I felt like sticking with the ales, so they ordered a nice red and I ordered a First Magnitude Ursa (American IPA) which I think is one of their better beers.


J wasn’t feeling well so he excused himself and walked home. So the remaining three of us looked over the menus and ordered our meals when the waitress returned. I had been there a few times and hadn’t had a bad dish yet, but wanted something I hadn’t tried before so I ordered the Mofongos, which is fried green plantains and yuca mashed with bacon and garlic-lime mojo, stuffed with your choice of grilled skirt steak, slow roasted pork, or sauteed shrimp. Served in a beef and pork jus. I chose the steak for my protein. I can’t recall what Chemist and Deck-Orator ordered.

We Philosophied some more for a bit but it didn’t seem long before our food was ready and brought out. The Mofongos was delicious. I like both plaintains and yucca but had not had them served mashed together before. It didn’t have the sweetness you usually expect from those two individually but it was still delicious.


When dinner was done I was too full to even think about a dessert. I think my cohorts were as well. All in all a very enjoyable meal that was a good way to finish the evening out.

If you hadn’t tried any of the small session beer tastings that happen around town occasionally then I suggest you do so. You can usually find at least one good beer out of the group that you will like. In this case, I enjoyed all of the samples and will probably not hesitate to try anything else from Lagunitas Brewing.

And if I hadn’t talked about Emiliano’s in this blog before then I should well have. I have not had a dish from there yet I did not enjoy. Now, a small word of caution, if you are like me and have problems with shellfish their menu is usually Mediterranean fair and several dishes will involve shellfish. But you can find something on there you can eat.

Until next time, as the Blarneyman says “Enjoy Every Moment!!”