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.
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.
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!!
So part of my July 4th weekend was spent doing the usual, grilling food and spending time with friends and family. Part of this involved visiting a couple of new places in Gainesville as well as some of our regular haunts.
On Friday, June 30th, the Maestro and I met up at First Magnitude to begin Supping back some Suds and begin some earnest Philosophying. I started off with their Dunkulla Weizenbock which was a great example of a good roasty Weizenbock flavor. I also sampled their Kemp’s Ridley Radler and it tasted good but sweeter than I expected. But the highlight for me at First Mag that evening was their New England Style IPA Trop Hop, which had strong citrus and floral notes in the nose but a great IPA flavor with a clean finish, a very refreshing beer.
While there, the Maestro and I started up a conversation with two other gents, both Gator Alumni and one was visiting for the first time in many years. We discussed a lot of the changes that had happened around town since he had been here last. Then they eventually told us they had just left another brewery called Cypress & Grove Brewing that had just opened up.
Now I knew there was a new brewery opening, that was originally going to be called Rainstorm Brewing but they had to do a name change for some reason, but I never heard the new name. But when these gents told us where it was located I knew it was the same place. So the Maestro and I wrapped our conversation and decided to head over there and see what offerings they had available.
In the interim, Rowdy and the Cooler had texted us to see if we were still at First Mag so we told them where we were headed and said to meet us there.
Cypress & Grove has only had a soft opening so far and is still undergoing some construction. For instance the AC was not installed yet the night we went and they have a large game area where they will probably have Corn Hole games and other games set-up. But without the AC it was very hot in that section as well.
They had a small list of beers available, but they also had a wine and some of their own seltzer water with flavoring for any young ones. The beers listed included a Blonde, a Pale Ale, an IPA and a Stout. They haven’t come up with any catchy names yet so if you go to look the beers up on Untappd it’s just under the brewery name for now.
I started out with their IPA which had a pretty good flavor and finish. I would definitely order it again. The Maestro said they same about their Pale Ale. My second glass was their Stout which had a traditional Stout flavor and reminded me of a Guinness. I have to be careful when trying Stouts anymore as more and more folks are putting out Chocolate Stouts and Barrel-Aged Stouts and a normal Stout really doesn’t compare to those. But if you like Guinness you will probably like this one.
I asked some folks on the staff and the Grand Opening will be in August sometime. By then I suspect they will have the AC in place. But if you can take the heat I would recommend stopping by and trying some of their fare.
After our second beer there I was hungry and suggested we adjourn to Satchel’s for dinner, which the Maestro, Rowdy and the Cooler all agreed was a good idea.
Our wait at Satchel’s was short and we were shown to a table pretty quickly for a Friday evening. We decided to share a small house salad and do a Democratic large pizza. I call it Democratic because it includes 4 toppings and there were four of us present so we each got to pick a topping and each had a veto power over a topping. Democracy in action on a holiday weekend celebrating our liberty’s….
Sorry, I just felt a lump forming in my throat.
To accompany the pizza I ordered the Big John’s Apricot Wheat from Bold City Brewing. I gotta tell you I love Satchel’s, but that night the pizza, salad and beer combination really hit the spot. I left completely sated.
The second part of this blog story takes place the Monday after this visit on July 3rd. I worked that day and had a cold come back on me over the weekend so plans I had to visit a new Ice Cream shop over the weekend had been delayed. I was originally going to try and bring my sister, her husband and the kids with me, but since I didn’t go out on the weekend and this is kind of on my way home, I decided instead to see if they offered to-go quarts, which they do.
Indigo’s Homemade hasn’t been open a year yet and I actually discovered them through Twitter. But I have to say, when you first walk in the door it’s got a very nostalgic feel to it. The décor is definitely 50’s style with that old soda shop look to it. In the background you hear music from the 50’s/60’s and can see the accompanying videos on a couple of flat screen TVs.
The ice cream is in large container’s under a glass display where you can easily see them. I don’t remember the exact number but I am guessing they had 24 different flavors of ice cream to choose from. They have a waffle iron on the back counter where they make their own waffle cones. And they have enough homemade syrups and toppings to make any dish served very personally tailored.
I talked with the lady behind the counter while she filled my quarts and found out that the ice cream is made locally by a company in Tampa, but it is fresh made and uses local ingredients, except for the Caramel which comes from Peru and the chocolate in the Dutch Chocolate, which is one of the quarts I ordered. The other two were Vanilla and Strawberry Cheescake. The service was great and the décor was very well done.
The real test though came later that night after dinner. I decided again to play Democracy and give every flavor a chance at impressing me. Unfortunately, it is next to impossible for me to try and have something like ice cream without Tucker catching wind of it, no matter how hard I try. So the entire time I was scooping and sampling he was right there watching.
Now some of you may ask with 24 flavors available why I would order Vanilla. I like Vanilla, particularly good Vanilla. And I have to tell you this is good Vanilla. Really good flavor and the texture is very smooth and that buttery-creamy texture that homemade ice cream should have. It was sweet without having that over-sweet flavor that a lot of store bought ice cream has.
The Strawberry Cheesecake doesn’t just taste like strawberry cheesecake, it has chucks of strawberries and cheesecake in it. And the Dutch Chocolate doesn’t taste like store-bought milk chocolate ice cream, but dark chocolate from the Black Forest Region of Germany. Rich flavor without being sickeningly sweet with a creamy texture. I gotta say I loved all three and am looking forward to another bowl this evening.
I definitely recommend stopping by Indigo’s Homemade. I certainly will again and the next time I want one of their homemade waffle cones.
Just an FYI I couldn’t resist letting Tucker lick the bowl. And he wants more too.
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.
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:
Thinking outside the box is what craft brewers do best.
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.
If you have read my blog before you have probably seen my mention of anticipating the opening of new Brewery in Gainesville, Blackadder Brewing Company! Well, the day has finally arrived and they have opened and in my opinion, it was worth the wait!
Last Friday, a little before 10 AM I got a message in my email that Blackadder was opening it’s doors that day (see above). I sent a pic of the email out to my fellow beer bacchanalians and suggested this for happy hour that afternoon.
Unfortunately, I immediately succumbed to a flu bug going around town, (fever, chills, aches, digestive disorders, etc.) and ended up going home early that day. I told the crew I wouldn’t make it but to send me pics or the new place so I could see how it had turned out. The Doctor, Rowdy and the Maestro both obliged with the following:
While I was kinda ticked that I was too sick to make it to the opening day festivities, I was certainly glad to see that the business had a good turn out for their first day.
If you don’t know anything about Blackadder Brewing Company here is a quick quote about the owners/brewers from their website Blackadder Brewing:
“Chris and Sissy Hart have been married for 20+ years. Sissy is a Gainesville native and Chris has been here since coming to the University of Florida in 1987. Brewing has been a part of their lives for over a decade. For more than 6 years, Chris has worked at and managed the local homebrew supply shop and is a BJCP judge. Both Chris & Sissy are active members of Gainesville’s homebrew club, the Hogtown Brewers. Collectively, they have earned over 30 medals in beer competitions throughout Florida and the US. Their love of creating craft beer and sharing it with others led to the establishment of Blackadder Brewing Company. They look forward to sharing their award winning beers with the Gainesville community. “
Whether you bother going to the website or not (and I would recommend you do) all you really need to know is that they not only know good beer, they make good beer as well.
Now it really took me a few days to get over the bug I caught. I was pretty much sick all weekend and while I went back to work on Monday I was still drained physically of any energy. But by Tuesday I was feeling much better. Well enough that after work I headed over to the west side of town to do some Christmas shopping for the niece and nephew at Toys R Us, which is just west of the Oaks Mall. After I was done there, I decided to stop by Blackadder on the way home and see how it was.
If you are trying to find Blackadder, the address is 618 NW 60th Street, Suite A. It’s on the Southeast corner of the same building that is home for Honey Baked Ham, McAllister’s Deli and Painting with a Twist.
As you approach the business you will easily see the sign on the front, and they have a front and side entrance.
Once you enter you immediately feel like you have stepped into something much akin to an Olde World Pub. The tables are Pub style, and the wood brace accenting, fireplace and chandelier definitely lend themselves to that feel.
At the bar you can see they took their time in decorating and picking out the right look for that area. The dark wood cabinetry, raised white accent paneling and Olde World Style map behind the bar go great together.
But now let’s talk about the best part… The Beer!
First, it looks like they have around 40 taps available. I know they had 4 of their own brews (signified by the Blackadder tap handles) and well as two sodas they brewed themselves as well. But they also had a wide selection of good quality craft beers.
But I didn’t care about the other craft beers. You see I have had samplings of their beers before at some Beerfests and other activities and I know the kind of quality they are capable of producing. So I went their flight deal, which includes a sampling of all of their taps.
That evening they were serving the following from right to left in the pic above:
Prince Ludwig the Indestructible: which is a lager with really good flavor. If you or someone you know is not that familiar with craft beers I would recommend this as an introductory beer.
Zakziskie: A Smoked Wheat Beer. The smoke definitely hits the nose when you bring the glass up to the lips, but the smoke flavor combines with the wheat and almost makes it taste like a Belgian, in my opinion.
Warm Cockles: This Old ale is very tasty and you can tell it has a higher ABV. Loved the flavor! I would put this up against Founders Dirty Bastard, maybe even the Backwoods Bastard. This was probably my favorite of the evening but it was close tie with the next one.
Riders of the Lost Oat: This was an excellent stout! It was smooth tasting with a good mix of coffee and chocolate flavors!
I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to go to this establishment. It has a great atmosphere, a great staff that knows the product and good quality selection of beers to choose from. The only drawback for me is that it isn’t closer to my side of town, but for this place I will make an exception and brave the traffic.
One little disclosure statement: If you sit at the left hand side of the bar and look up on the wall you will see a plaque with some names on it called the Blackadder Founders Club. My name is one of those on that plaque. But I do not receive any funds or profit from the business and am not associated with it in any way other than as a patron. I donated some funding to their Kickstarter campaign because I wanted to see another brewery in the Gainesville area and I always like to see a small business get a good start.
In case all of the commercials and ads for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, all of the shiny glowing decorations along the streets, all of the radio stations playing holiday music related to their format and all of the chintzy holiday related TV shows wasn’t a hint enough for you that we are in full blown holiday mode, then all of the seasonal releases of holiday craft beer flooding the shelves, should be.
I thought I would offer up some recommended ales and holiday recipes involving craft beer for spicing up your seasonal favorites. Now for me, the holiday season starts out on November 11th, Veteran’s Day. Being a Vet myself, I always like sitting back and remembering those who have served, especially those who served with me. That remembrance included Ayinger’s Hefeweizen and their Oktoberfest Marzen, both excellent examples of German beers, where I served for 2 years in the 50th TAC Fighter Wing.
The next day I spent the afternoon at Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville for the Florida Brewer’s Guild Barrel Aged and Sour Beer Fest. This was the second year in a row I attended this beerfest and it was, again, worth it. I could name all of the beers I enjoyed but that in itself would be an article. Instead I will recommend going to the FBG website and download the list yourself. I didn’t have a single one that wasn’t worth trying, but I couldn’t try them all.
On Thanksgiving Eve I began the holiday weekend with Funky Buddha’s Sweet Potato Casserole. An ale so good I had to fight Tucker off from trying to steal it from me.
For Thanksgiving Day, I decided to smoke a turkey and a ham, and while the process was going on I enjoyed supping back the Big Deal Chocolate Cherry Imperial Stout from Darwin Brewing, a really tasty stout with a great finish.
After the turkey and ham were done cooking I accompanied them both along with some other traditional fare with a bottle of 2013 Trignac XII, a Tripel aged in Cognac barrels, which accompanies all the dishes well.
The day after, Black Friday, after coming home from happy hour I decided to make my annual egg-nog, But I also wanted to try a little experiment and decided to make a double batch, with a portion of the second batch I would add a wee heavy ale to the mix. I thought the flavors of the ale, especially a good one, would enhance the bourbon, cognac and rum in the eggnog. For the ale I chose a bottle of Founder’s Backwoods Bastard. Only one more week to wait before it will be ready for sampling. To give credit where credit is due, for my egg-nog recipe I use Alton Brown’s recipe which you can find on Foodnetwork.com.
Which brings us to this weekend, where today I used the remainder of my leftover turkey to make Turkey Chili. Now you may remember reading above where I smoked a turkey and a ham on Thanksgiving. When I cook a turkey I include the giblets and the neck in the pan for roasting or smoking, so that I can get the rich flavors and juices from those parts into any gravy I make. In this case, I used the cooked liver and heart along with the white and dark meat from the bird and cut them up into small pieces. I also used a Pilsner along with some other ingredients (see below) and cooked them in a crockpot all day. The results were not only delicious but if you’re in a cold climate I highly recommend it. Definitely something to keep you warm in the winter months.
Papabear’s Smoked Turkey and Pilsner Chili:
2 Medium sweet onions – chopped
1 ½ Cups of chopped celery
1 ½ cups of chopped carrot
3 large jalapenos (deseeded and sliced)
3 cans of navy beans
1 can whole kernel corn
2 pounds of smoked turkey (cubed)
3 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon of chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon of curry powder
½ tablespoon of Cajun seasoning
16 oz. Pilsner (I used Marten’s in this case) – you could also use an IPA or a Wheat beer.
Add all ingredients in the order above into 6 quart crockpot or dutch oven. Top off with enough water to just cover ingredients, then cook on high for 8 hours.
When serving top off with shredded cheddar cheese and serve with corn chips, crackers or rolls.
More recipes will be coming in the days to follow but wanted to get these, and the list of beers of to you while I had time.
It’s that time of the year in North Central Florida where the temperatures have finally dropped to a comfortable range. The last few days have been in the 40s and 50s overnight and in the 70s during the day. Doors and windows are being opened to let fresh air in and some folks are breaking out the winter wear.
This is also the time of year that will see an uptick in the types of foods that provide warmth, particularly chilis, soups and stews. My first creation of the crockpot season is a variation of an old fashioned beef stew.
Sometimes I follow a particular recipe and sometimes I like to experiment with flavors I may available or may be craving. When I purchased some of the ingredients I had a hankering for beef, potatoes, carrots and zucchini. If I had been grilling it might have been kabobs or grilled steak with a side of these veggies mixed with olive oil and cooked in tin foil.
The other ingredients are spices that I normally have lying around, Vidalia Onions which are my favorite onions, and a bottle of Shipyard Brewing’s Blood Orange Belgian Style.
Ingredients for Belgian Mushroom and Beef Stew:
2 lbs. Stewing Beef
1 lbs. Portobello Mushrooms (sliced)
3 Yukon Potatoes (cut into half inch cubes)
2 Vidalia Onions (cubed)
2 cups of cut carrots (cut into 1 inch pieces and halved)
4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 12 oz. bottle Belgian
1 teaspoon Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
additional water as needed
I prepped the night before by taking two pounds of stewing beef and putting it in a bowl with a teaspoon of Soy Sauce, a tablespoon of Worcestershire and the 12 ounces of Belgian beer and mixing them in a bowl. Place a cover on the bowl and put into the refrigerator overnight. (Overnight may seem long but I wanted to start the crockpot cooking before I went into work.)
In the morning I began the crockpot build by adding the remaining ingredients in this order:
marinated beef pieces
remaining tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
leftover marinade juice
I turned the crockpot on low and went to work. When I got home at the end of the day this is what I saw:
I sampled the stew and liked the flavor but added a little more salt and a cup of water, and let it cook for another hour.
While it was cooking I tried to decide what to pair it with and decided to go with the Victory Brewing’s Liquid Luxury V12, a Belgian Quad and very delicious on it’s own.
After the stew was ready, I turned the crockpot off and sliced some French bread into 1 inch slices and smeared some butter and garlic powder on them then toasted them in a toaster over.
Okay, let’s be honest Belgians go with pretty much anything so the Victory V12 was no risk at all. And I always prefer a hard roll or garlic bread to go with my soups and stews. So for me that seemed natural as well.
The stew was a little risky, but I was shooting for a flavor similar to a French onion, which I believe I got as close as I can without actually making a French onion soup. The onion flavor was subtle and if you substitute Yellow onions for Vidalia onions it would certainly enhance that flavor. The carrots and zucchini added a sweetness, which is why I used the Cajun seasoning to balance it.
Overall it was a great stew. I loved the texture of the ingredients and the flavor combinations along with the pairing of the garlic bread and the Belgian beer.
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
If the title worries you that I may begin waxing poetic…. don’t worry. My word-smithing is more direct and not as open to interpretation as most poetry is. And to be honest trying to emulate the styles of any poets I admire (of which there are admittedly few) would be a wasted effort. And I like to add visual aids to my posts to drive home my point… Like this one!!
If you are a craft beer fan then you probably have an App on your phone. You may use this App for keeping track of beers that you like with a rating system. You may use it to find businesses near by that sell craft beers. You may use it to find specific beers that you are looking for, There are other uses for Apps as well. Some craft beer bars have their own Apps so you can track the beers you consume in their establishments and see how many points you have toward their next level/prize.
My fellow beer bacchanalians and I primarily make use of the Untappd App for various reasons, one being that we can use it in multiple places. Another is the addictive nature of the App because as you try more and more different styles and brands of beer you get badges. So it has the usefulness of helping track and find beers, as well as a bit of a social media touch with the friends aspect attached to it, but also has the addictiveness of a game.
While I am talking specifically about this App, this is in no way an endorsement of this particular App or any other App for that matter. In fact there was a point where we were so focused on getting badges we weren’t anywhere near as concerned about the quality of beer. Both the Doctor and I would look at upcoming or newly created badges and see what beers we would need to get them.
In honor of the craziness we experienced with this App and other similar Apps out there, the following is a list of Badges we would like to see Untappd make available (but probably never will because they are really too appropriate for our group).
For all the nasty beers we drank just to get a badge. A habit which has now fallen by the wayside. Life is to short to waste it on a nasty beer!
One of our haunts has a priest who visits and works on his paperwork while he enjoys a brewed beverage. If he’s there when we stop in we take as a sign of good luck.
If you use this App, or one like it, with your friends, then you probably have that one friend who leads the pack in badges and has to let everybody know about it.
We all also have that one friend who doesn’t want their picture taken or to checked in on Facebook. The reasons ay vary but you know you have one.
You also probably have the friend who works the job where the hours aren’t 9 to 5, so they often are absent when you are out trying to collect badges. This one is for them.
This is for the friend who has a rotating schedule and only drinks every other week. So their badge collection suffers.
Karaoke and beer go together like ham and eggs.
Some times this can accompany the karaoke badge. But it also can stand on it’s own.
This is for the brave souls who really just don’t know their limits.
This probably ends up accompanying the High ABV badge.
Unfortunately these two badges come as a set. I don’t think it’s intentional it just turns out that way.
Every group of beer drinkers has the one guy with the long beard. Mea culpa!
And finally this either for those who don’t use the App. You have a badge waiting for you. It can also be applied to those who have finally quit keeping track of how many badges you have. But then you would probably never know you got it.
Whether you use this App or another, enjoy the beer and the camaraderie, the badges can wait.
Ahhhh Summer Camp… the phrase draws to mind many different images for many different folks. And those images can vary from person to person and they will vary depending on what kind of camp you went to when you were a kid. There were (and maybe still are) Bible Camps, Math Camps, Music or Band Camps, and of course the scouting related camps. Kids playing pranks on each other and the camp counselors, parents getting a respite from the duties of parenting all the while worrying about their kids getting poison ivy and bee stings or some other summertime ailment.
I went to some scout camps when I was very young, then when I got into my teens I went to fishing camps with friends and their families. I always enjoyed getting away from home, not because home was a bad place but because it was something different. And some great fishing for Crappy and Bass takes place in upper New York, Black Lake to be specific, and all throughout Pennsylvania in the summer time.
So imagine my joyful glee at hearing that Sierra Nevada was hosting a BeerCamp in six different cities throughout the country this year. And one of them was actually close enough for me to attend.
The overall concept was that 31 different breweries would get together and make six different collaborative beers representing different regions of the country. Then they were to host a beer festival in each region to show off these beers and invite a lot of different breweries from the area to show up and show off their wares.
The first BeerCamp to be held this summer actually took place yesterday in Tampa, FL. Some of you may be asking why Tampa? I would reply “Why not Tampa?” If you haven’t been to Florida then you are missing out on well over 100 breweries (that could be over 200 but I didn’t want to exaggerate) many of which can stand up to most of the other brewers in the country. The greatest conglomeration of breweries in Florida is around the Tampa area, so it makes perfect sense to those of us who live here.
The event was held at the Curtis Hixon Park which is on the west part of Tampa along the Hillsborough River. Not having been there before, but to other venues in Tampa, I have to say this was an excellent location for this event. It is located near many other venues, has access to public transportation, and has a natural amphitheater built into the site. And the views of the river walk are great!
Having been to a few other Beer Fests in Tampa or the surrounding area this time I planned in advance and scouted out for nearby parking. And luckily practically right next door to the park is the William F. Poe Parking Garage. So instead of setting my iPhone map feature to the event I mapped out getting to the garage instead.
The park itself is surrounded on three sides by tall and/or architecturally interesting buildings which provide a scenic surrounding even when you are not looking at the river.
Once you entered BeerCamp you immediately lay eyes one of the best party buses ever. Obviously a customized paint job, I will bet that this beauty will be at all of the BeerCamps. What lucky S.O.B. has the job of driving it and who do I have to bribe to get his job?
Nearby were the food trucks which numbered probably around a dozen. And on the other side of the bus were the beer tents. They had four large tents altogether, which housed the many brewery vendors. Also nearby were large vats of fresh water for folks to drink and rinse out their glasses, a stage featuring a band performing the whole time, a splattering of high top tables throughout the grounds and off to the side was a bank of porta-toilets.
The place was packed with folks there to sample the various beers. But even with the large crowd you didn’t have to wait long to get to most of the breweries and sample their brews. There were a few exceptions, one or two of the breweries seemed to have a long line to get a sample, and there was a line for getting your picture taken at the BeerCamp display, which is why I don’t have one.
I didn’t take pictures of all of my samples only a few, but those and some others are definitely worth a mention. Big Storm Brewing’s Oats in Hose Oatmeal Stout (pictured below left), Cigar City brew Pub’s Space Race Imperial Russian Stout, Smog City’s Coffee Porter (pictured below right), and the collaboration Stout of the Union all were great examples of a good Porter or Stout, with the Space Race winning by far out of the group.
Hourglass Brewery’s Beatrijs Belgian Dubbel with Gooseberries, Brew Hub’s Diver Down Red Ale, and Wynwood Brewing’s Guava the Hut a Berliner Sour Ale (pictured above), all came across very well too. I also want to give credit to the Tampa brewer’s Guild collab Guildy by Association which was a really refreshing Saison which hit the spot on a hot summer evening.
Food trucks all had long lines at them and nothing at them really seemed to tickle my fancy when I looked over the menu. Except the last one which didn’t have a line, probably because it was the furthest away from the beer. The Red Line Truck had three items on their menu: Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps, Hot Dogs and Sweet Potato Croquettes. All three looked good to eat, but I ordered a hot dog and a side of the croquettes. The hot dog had a good flavor and they didn’t drown it out with condiments, jst enough to enhance it. And the Sweet Potato croquettes had a goat cheese center that made it creamy as well as sweet. If you’re in Tampa and see this food truck again I highly recommend it.
After a couple of hours of beer sampling and sweating in the evening sun I decided to head out, but not before taking a last look across the river at the minarets for the University of Tampa reflecting the light on the sunset.
I also grabbed a selfie with the BeerCamp bus and took a pic of kids playing in the fountain outside the children’s museum which is beside the parking garage.
BeerCamp was great. The venue selected worked great and the various vendors all had great beers and foods to sample. Too bad it didn’t last a week or more like the camps did when we were kids.
I certainly hope they hold more of these next year. I would definitely attend it again. The only change I might suggest is allowing pets. Tucker doesn’t like it when I leave him at home and insists on showing me how much he missed me when I get back. Either that or he’s trying to get some beer and food samples out of my beard.
Perhaps I should start by explaining the title a bit. World of Beer is a franchise business featuring craft beers and tavern food. It started in Tampa Florida about 9 years ago and has grown since to well over 50 locations throughout the US (though most of them are in the southeast in general and Florida especially). In Gainesville we now have two. The first was opened west of Gainesville, about half way between it and the city of Newberry, in the Tioga Town Center, about 3 or 4 years ago. It is a nice establishment with a great selection of beers.
But for me it has two major limitations:
It doesn’t serve food. But then that is not unusual with a lot of tap rooms in Gainesville. In fact World of Beer at Tioga does what a lot of Tap Rooms do and lets customers order food to be delivered from local businesses. So that alone would not keep me from going there.
It is pretty freakin’ far out for me to drive there! On a good traffic day it takes me at least 45 minutes to get there from where I live in Gainesville, but it can be an hour or longer. With all of the other choices available to me in town going there isn’t really practical unless I happen to be in the area, which doesn’t happen often. Also I could just as easily add a half hour to travel time and visit a brewery in Jacksonville, or an hour and visit one in Tampa or Orlando.
Given these limitations, I have only been to WoB in Tioga twice. I enjoyed myself both times but the drive back was too long. The only other time I go out to Tioga is when the Annual Hogtown Beerfest is being held. And I don’t need to stop in there then.
So when I heard a few months back that WoB was opening a location in town (a location previously occupied by Hooters), I was looking forward to the opening. And I have to say I was not disappointed.
We started the weekend a bit early on Thursday evening because the Blarneyman and the Cheerleader were visiting in town. So Thursday evening they, the Maestro, the Chemist, the Deck-orater and myself met up at Market Street for some Karaoke with Mr. October.
Friday after I got off of work, we all met up at Gainesville House of Beer for happy hour and I brought Tucker along so the Blarneyman could finally meet him. Both of those meetings (or as the Blarneyman calls it… Networking) went well and we enjoyed the company the craft beers and the philosphying, and I finished my 7th RailCard at HoB.
Saturday afternoon, I was recovering from a miserable morning of trying to do outside chores and failing miserably all morning due to various circumstances. It seemed the universe didn’t want me to get any work around the house accomplished so I took that as a sign that I needed to go console myself with some fine ales. I started thinking about going to the new WoB as it had just opened earlier in the week. Now long after that thought entered my head, I got a text from the Doctor saying he was getting ready to head into town for beers and suggested WoB. Again the Universe was talking to me. Who was I to argue?
I eventually made my way there and found that, like the Hooters that was there before, the front entrance was kind of understated. But the entrance is only a small corner of the establishment, once you get inside then the atmosphere and the room opens up. Very nice furnishings and décor appropriate to the business and plenty of room inside and out on the patio. They even have a room that can be closed off for a private party.
I was greeted by a few staff members at the door who quickly offered to find me a seat, and then I saw the Doctor had arrived before me and said I was meeting friends who were here. The Maestro and the Blarneyman were also here and had put in a beer order already, while the Doctor was enjoying his.
The waitress came over, a young lady by the name of Ashley, who I introduced myself to and ordered my first beer of the day, a kolsch style from Coastal Empire Beer co., called Tybee Island Blonde. It has that nice kolsch flavor with a smooth finish.
It was early enough in the afternoon that Ashley was not overwhelmed with customers and she took the time to chat with us a bit. She also works at another establishment in town that sells craft beers which I have mentioned before. And she enjoys beer so we lucked out getting a waitress who not only has experience with our kind of customer but also knows the products well enough to recommend some of them to us.
While Ashley was not overwhelmed she did have other customers, so while she took care of their needs the four of us began doing what we do best, philosophying and supping suds. I found out that the Maestro and the Blarneyman would only be with us a short time that afternoon as they had a Gala to attend with their good ladies that evening… something at the Thomas Center that sounded like, as the Blarneyman would say, a very posh affair.
So we had another round of beers, this time I ordered a Hofbrau Maibock, which had a light caramel flavor with a smooth finish. And we resumed our philosophying. Then Ashley came back by and somehow the conversation got around to whether or not dogs were allowed in. Ashley told us that they were welcome on the patio and the Doctor showed her pics of Rowdy’s dog Harley, whom he frequently dog sits and takes to different establishments when she and the Cooler are away. Not to be outdone I produced pics of Tucker and got the “Oooh how cute!” remark for his pics. The Doctor told me to tell her about the hit squirrel and I proceeded to tell her the story about the cannibal hit squirrel that the other neighborhood squirrels had brought in to get Tucker (a tale for another blog).
After that round of beers was finished the Maestro and the Blarneyman headed out to change into their penguins suits and take their ladies to the gala, which left the Doctor and I to decide what we would do for a meal. Since we were already there and they actually served food at this establishment, we decided to sample some of the fare. We both ordered another beer while we looked over the menu, and this time I saw that they had a Weihanstephaner that I had not had before, so I ordered the 1516 which is a kellerbier (a type of German beer which is typically not clarified or pasteurized) which has a little cloudiness to the appearance due to a higher remainder of yeast in the beer. No matter how it is defined, like all of the Weihanstephaners, it is certainly delicious.
When she came back with the next round for myself and the Doctor, we put in our food orders. The doctor ordered a salad, a Spring Greens & Kale Salad, which looked good and he certainly seemed to enjoy it, along with a side of house fries. The Kale would hinder my enjoyment but the dressing was a vinaigrette made with a Framboise, which I would probably enjoy very much.
I ordered the Guinness Bratwurst, which is a bratwurst infused with Guinness, served with sauerkraut, sautéed onions & peppers on a hoagie roll, and I ordered a side of tator tots. Not the menu recommended pairing the dish with a stout, but they didn’t have a stout on draft that I hadn’t tried before so I looked of the bottle menu and saw they had a Strong Ale that I hadn’t tried yet. So I ordered it instead. And the Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard Ale went perfectly with this dish, and was an excellent beer on its own as well.
After we had finished eating and were slowly enjoying our last beers, Ashley and another young lady walked over with a bell and a couple of T-shirts. The other young woman rang the bell loudly and Ashley called out, “Attention Everyone! I would like to announce that Dr. G and the Bear are now official members of our Loyalty Club!” with drew a little bit of applause from the other patrons. Then she handed us our tees and our respective membership cards.
Ok. This was not how we saved the World (…of Beer University). After the Maestro and the Blarneyman had left, but before we ordered our food both the Doctor and I started talking to one of the managers about what a great waitress Ashley was. We like to do that whenever we are at an establishment that has an employee that is good at their job. One reason is that when you come across an employee at an establishment you like you want to make sure they are around the next time you come you need to let the people in charge know their value. Another reason is we hope that gets back to the person we were talking about from their supervisor and helps make their day better.
But that wasn’t how we saved the World either. The Doctor mentioned that we were unable to check into Untappd on our phones. And the manager we were talking to hadn’t heard of untapped before. So we explained how the app works, how you can keep track of beers and rate them and find them when they are being served locally or how you can use the app to find a place locally as well.
Right before we were walking out the door to leave, he came up to us and thanked us for him letting him know about it, and that he had put the WoB University into their database so that it could be used as a location now. So for all of you beer geeks out there who use untapped and want to find WoB University or want to check in while you’re there… You’re welcome!
Okay… “Saved” may be a strong word for what we did. But everybody makes their own contributions when it comes to saving the world. You do it your way and we’ll do it ours!