Monday, March 31, 2008

A keening loss at both of the area's baseball ballparks

Baltimore Sun columnist Rob Kasper lamented today's Opening Day loss of his hometown Baltimore Orioles to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. And a keening lament it could have been, 6 to 2 being the score.

But Rob did have reason for rejoicing: a choice of good beers in which to drown his sorrows. In his post, he only mentions a few, but Camden Yards indeed offers many choices of local beers.

As I've wailed before, the Washington Nationals proffer only one bottled local beer and no local draft.

The stadia of the Orioles and the Nationals are fewer than 40 miles apart along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. But they are worlds apart in terms of supporting local beer.

Big out-of-town breweries can pay the big bucks.

DC gets Belgian patio

Next week, if the weather holds, Beck will open an outdoor patio with room for 62 patrons and four draft lines that will pour different beers than the dozen offered at the bar inside. Beer director Bill Catron -- a knight of the Belgian brewers guild -- hasn't decided the balance of the outdoor list, but he promises the selections will balance out. "If we take Delirium [Tremens] and Campus outside, then we'll put two new beers on at the bar," he explains.

The patio seating at Beck may eventually double -- the restaurant's permit allows room for 120 customers -- and it will be open until 11 every night. The only downside? Catron says that sitting outside requires the purchase of food. However, just ordering an appetizer "should be fine if you want to have a beer," he adds.


A bowl of frites, a draft dubbel, and fresh air: that's an appealing canvas for a Brueggel of Washington. By the way, the food requirement is Beck's, not a DC law.

Beer not "Shine"-ing yet at Yahoo

Yahoo Inc is introducing a new media site focused on women's daily lives, the latest in a string of sites that include ones for gadget enthusiasts and food lovers, the company said on Sunday.

The Sunnyvale, California-based company said the new site, called "Shine," offers nine categories ranging from Fashion & Beauty to Parenting. It syndicates material from popular lifestyle publishers including Conde Nast and Hearst Corp.

The site is aimed at roughly 40 million women between the ages of 25 and 54

Nothing yet on beer. Send in your CVs!

A walk-off win at Nats new home!

The National's Ryan Zimmerman hits a walk-off winning home run against the Atlanta Braves in the bottom of the 9th inning last night. Now, that's the way to dedicate the new ballpark. 3-2.

Animated GIF of the walkoff homer.

From gbwells at PhotoBucket.

I didn't make it to the game but listened to the excellent radio play-by-play with Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler at 3WT at 1500AM. To listen on-line, however, you'll have to pay Major League Baseball.

The Nationals Journal blog is here. Most postings are by the Washington Post sports beat writer Barry Svrluga.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Did you know that Bass has been brewed by ... Coors?

Under license, that is. It would be a safe wager that most Americans wouldn't know.

And it now appears that Coors is disingenuously driving yet another nail into the coffin of the once proud Bass, once owner of Britain's first registered trademark:


The giant American brewer Coors, owner of the former Bass breweries in Burton-on-Trent, plans to axe its visitor centre and brewing museum in the town on the grounds of cost (see previous blog and main website) -- but runs a highly successful brewing museum in Denver, Colorado. A report in the Rocky Mountain News reveals that Coors, based in Golden in Colorado, is updating the brewing museum to use state-of-the-art technology in order to attract even more visitors to the facility.

It seems clear that Coors is more committed to a museum in its home state than to the former Bass Museum it inherited in Burton.

... from Roger Protz, the 'other' British Beer writer.

Read the rest of Protz's post here. It raises an illustrative warning about breweries that increase their market share at the expense of their profit-to-cost ratio.

While many US craft breweries have raised their prices this year, many of the big companies have not. They hope to make their beers more attractive, price-wise, in the downturning economy.

How long can they maintain that small and diminishing margin of profit in the face of rising costs? How long can we small breweries survive at our higher prices versus theirs?

Maryland malt tax on hold, maybe

Rick Lyke—at his otherwise informative blog—recently got it partly wrong when he noted that a bill had passed the Maryland Senate that would allow grocery and convenience stores to sell hard cider and malternatives (sweet soda-pop-like alcohol products such as Mike's Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice).

No grocery stores or convenience stores in Maryland may sell liquor; and only one store per any particular grocery chain in the state may sell beer and wine.

The proposed law is a tax thing. It would maintain the rate on malternatives at the same level as on beer, rather than increasing it to that of distilled spirits.

Most malternatives begin as beers of 4-6% alcohol by volume, then are filtered to the nth degree and dosed with artificial flavorings. Many ciders, often flavored as well, fall into the same alcohol range.

Here's what occurred, as reported in the Baltimore Sun today:

A number of lawmakers and county public health directors also opposed the measure [taxing malternatives at the same rate as beer], saying the products are marketed to teens and should not be afforded the wide distribution or lower taxes of beer. Supporters noted that most other states allowed this classification and that the products had roughly the same percentage of alcohol as beer.

The bill passed in the Senate, 36-10, and is scheduled to be heard Tuesday by a House committee.

If the tax on malternatives were to be increased, wouldn't then beer become relatively more affordable? The real issue is, of course, the sale of any alcohol to minors. Enforcement, penalties, and education are the solutions. (For this argument, I'll leave aside any discussion of the value—or not—of small amounts of beer or wine at the family table.)

And while I'm at it, isn't someone, who misrepresents his or her age when attempting to purchase alcohol, committing fraud? Shouldn't penalties be divided between the seller and the buyer?

all a-Twitter

I'm bit of a gadget-hound and tech 'tryer-outer'. So I tried out Twitter a couple of days ago:

follow me on twittera service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

Saturday, on Twitter, you could have followed my day of beer sales.

It's a generational thing, I know, but I don't see the value in this. Real life intervenes. Even a younger friend, who is aghast that the brewery doesn't have its own MySpace page, doesn't Twitter ... yet.
I was like WYD
She was like Z
I was like L8R

Maybe I could Twitter a ticker's record at a beer tasting, and then review it afterward for a sober blog entry. But in any case, until then, I'm officially un-Twittering. Now, back to downloading The Complete Riverside Recordings of Wes Montgomery.

[UPDATE: I've actually taken to Twitter since this post, sort of un-un-Twittering.]

Friday, March 28, 2008

Nationals open ONLY one LOCAL bottled beer

Dan Steinberg at the Washington Post D.C. Sports Blog posted this yesterday:

Nats Park Beer Options

Your Opening Night local beer lineup.

What beers will be available at Nationals Park? Having asked this question about 4,000 times--"you've got a one-track mind," Stan Kasten told me this afternoon--I finally got the answer today, during the free-food tour of Nats concessionaires. No, there were no beer samples.

Domestic drafts ($7.50): Miller Lite, MGD, Budweiser, Bud Light.

High-end drafts ($7.50, smaller pour): Guinness, Bass, Stella Artois, Blue Moon, Sunset Wheat, Home Run Ale (Leinenkugel), Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, Yuengling.

Domestic bottles ($7.50, 16 oz. bottle): Miller Lite, MGD, Miller Chill, Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Smirnoff Ice. (Can't promise this list is 100 percent accurate; some might belong below.)

High-end bottles ($6.50, 12 oz. bottle): Amstel Light, Beck's, Corona, Heineken, Pete's Wicked, Red Stripe, Sierra Nevada Pale, Yuengling, Sam Adams, Sam Adams Seasonals, Tecate, Dos Equis, and eventually several Asian beers at the Asian food cart. (Again, some of the names on the list possibly belong above.)

Local bottles: Hook & Ladder Lighter.


I wish that the Nationals and their concessionaire — Centerplate — had shown more of a reach-out for local beers. A short road trip up to the Orioles Camden Yards — less than 40 miles north of Nationals Ballpark — would have demonstrated to them the robust Virginia/Maryland/DC beer business community.

(I work for local Clipper City Brewing, so I would have had a financial stake if we had been approached.)

Congratulations, nonetheless, to Rich Fleischer and his company—Hook and Ladder—and a heartfelt appreciation for them securing a toehold for craft beer in the new Nationals ballpark.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Michael Jackson's Birthday

From Dave and Diane Alexander, proprietors of Washington D.C.'s Brickskeller, came this expression of sadness and of appreciation:

I'm sure most of you know who Michael Jackson, the BeerHunter, is. Perhaps you may not know today, March 27, 2008, would have been his 66th birthday. Michael was a great friend of the Brickskeller and one Diane and I are honored to have considered a good friend personally for 25 years.

[...] go to your favorite pub tonight and raise a glass of good beer to his honored memory ... [or] respect this as a special enough occasion to warrant the popping of a favorite top you've been stashing in your vault.

While Michael may have passed, his contributions to the world of beer and the foundation his writings laid for all writers to build upon and all brewers to aspire to will live and grow forever.

Happy Birthday Michael
you are still dearly missed

A friend and I toasted Mr. Jackson with an oak-aged Dominion Millennium, vintage 2005.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

April peregrinations

Sunday 6 April, I'll be at the Classic City Brewfest in Athens, Georgia, representing Clipper City Brewing with a firkin of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, and samples of our spring seasonal Red Sky at Night Saison and of our year-round Uber Pils, Small Craft Warning.

[UPDATE: photos posted on Flickr.]


Tuesday 8 April, I'll be at the Taco Mac in Atlanta, celebrating 75 years (+ one day) of legal beer in the US.

[UPDATE: recap posted here.]

Saturday 12 April, I'll be visiting Hickory, North Carolina for the Hickory Hops Brew Festival. It's the town's 6th annual, but the first-time for Clipper City Brewing. I'll be pouring from a firkin of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale and samples of our Red Sky at Night Saison.

Hickory is mid-way between Raleigh Greensboro and Asheville.

[UPDATE: photos posted on Flickr.]

Are our bad beers, not bad?

Ever since the late great Michael Jackson (whose birthday we celebrate tomorrow) commended craft brewers in the US for brewing the best beers in the world, some of us, in a self-congratulatory manner, have occasionally overlooked the bigger picture. A good beer culture is not only the liquid but also local pride and national zeitgeist.

Evan Rail is author of Good Beer Guide: Prague and the Czech Republic. In a recent blog, Rail mused about what he considers the true measure of a beer culture ... from his vantage point in the Czech Republic.

a country’s beer culture shouldn’t be measured by the achievements of its best beers. Instead, I’d argue that a better way to take the pulse of any beer culture would be to look at its worst beers. Just how good are your supermarket generics? How good is the beer served at sports events? What do the masses drink?

Sure, America may have Surly Darkness and an army of outstanding craft brewers producing more variety than any other nation on earth, but the fact is that most people there drink Bud Light. In its history and achievements, Germany’s beer culture is outstanding, but if I had to drink mass-produced German pils for the rest of my days, it wouldn’t be a particularly long ride before I died of thirst, if not boredom.

And yet of all the beers in the Czech Republic that didn’t impress me — and yes, there are a few — I can’t think of any that are really and truly terrible, as in evil. (Okay, someone might say ahem! and nod in a direction west-northwest from Prague. With the qualification that I mean it in a global context, I stand by my statement.) <...>

It’s true, there’s not a huge amount of variety in Czech beer culture, at least not by American standards, though there certainly is much more now than just a few years ago. Regardless, our good beers are generally excellent, just as the good beers are in any beer culture.

The difference? Our bad beers are often quite good, too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Atlanta celebrates 75 years of legal beer


Fred and the troupe at Atlanta's Taco Mac have invited Clipper City Brewing to participate in their celebration of the 75th anniversary of the return of beer to America.

Well, actually one day late. It's the NCAA Championship game on Monday 7 April, so we'll be doing it on Tuesday, 8 April at 6pm.

I'll be bringing 2 firkins: a cask of Below Decks Barleywine 10% alcohol by volume (a.b.v.) and a cask of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (7.3% abv). The former has been resting since the end of October 2007; the latter will be sparkling fresh. Our cellarman racks it this coming Saturday.

These are strong beers. So it's a delicious irony that what was made legal 75 years ago were beers of 3.2% abv or less! Read historian Bob Skilnik's post on what really happened that day.

Prohibition itself—the 18th amendment—was not repealed until the passage of the 21st Amendment on 5 December 1933.

The event will feature 10 beers, some rare, from 7 breweries, and a buffet dinner. The celebration begins at 6pm (remember, it's Tuesday 8 April) upstairs at the Taco Mac in the Lindbergh Center. The cost to attend is $70 and reservations are required.

  • Slow-roasted Beef Sirloin with peppercorn crust and horseradish on Ciabatta
  • Muffaletta Crustini: salami, ham, fresh herbs
  • Grilled Kielbasa: Atlanta-made sausage, apple cabbage, sweet peppers
  • Shepherd's Pie with cheddar cheese crust
  • Baked Beans with spicy mustard and smoked bacon
  • Orzo Salad of feta cheese, capers, red bell peppers
  • Colcannon with smoked bacon, caramelized cabbage
  • Granny Smith Apple Crisp

THE Meme of Beer: FRESH

Food should please the eyes as well as the stomach.

And beer should as well. Beer is, after all, a foodstuff.

It's made from grain, just as is bread. If you were to bake a loaf of bread tonight, would you wait to consume that lovely, redolent loaf ... for 6 months? No!

Treat your beer with the same love and respect.

Drink it Fresh
. That's THE meme of beer.

for Autumn: Bud Ale, and the heart of the matter

I've blogged before about the Trojan Horse strategy of the big boys.

Large corporate breweries will create a marginally more flavorful beer than their standard fare but package it as if it were a craft beer (read: small and independent brewery). Blue Moon, for example, sells well for Molson/Coors, in part because it's disguised as a craft beer—including its higher 'craft-beer' price.

Sometimes it's disguised as an imported beer, such as Killian's which was a popular item on Saint Patrick's Day, even though brewed by Coors in Golden, Colorado.

Occasionally, the big boys behave less covertly.

Witness SAB/Miller's test marketing of the Miller Lite Brewers Collection, a trio of low-cal, low-carb 'craft-style' beers in four markets including Baltimore, Maryland. They began this in February; I haven't yet had the gumption to buy a sixer.

Just last week, Anheuser-Busch (A-B) announced plans to brew Budweiser American Ale: no test markets but a scheduled autumn nationwide release.

A-B Vice President of Marketing Dave Peacock said that the concept is "very appealing" to consumers and it "improves the Budweiser image and validates our Great American Lager positioning for the mother brand."
-- Beer Business Daily
20 March 2008

More flavor being "very appealing"? More flavor improving the image of "the mother brand"? Is there an implication about a lack of flavor? Say it ain't so!

Puzzling is whom A-B thinks might purchase this beer which will be priced higher than Budweiser or Bud Light:
  • Bud Light drinkers, who dislike what they might describe as the 'heavy and bitter' flavors of craft beers?
  • Craft beer drinkers, of whom a substantial minority have an almost somatic antipathy for anything 'mainstream'?
In the mid 1990s, Miller brewed a beer simply called "Miller", a beer so 'unique' that the brewery was willing to put its very name on the label—or words to some such effect. Even more of a scream were the ingredients Miller claimed to use in making this eponymous beer: "We only use the 'heart of the hops'."

Miller—The Beer was so special, it quickly became merely a memory; and ever since, botanists have been searching for its elusive piece of agricultural anatomy.

For that matter, does anyone remember Budweiser Red?

Monday, March 24, 2008

The problem of binge working

From blogger Boakandbailey:

The more I think about so-called binge drinking, the more I think it is a result of the Northern European [and hence, American] attitude to work — the weekend feels like the only time people can really relax, after slogging through five or six days of boredom, stress, and aggravation, and they want it to be something special, memorable and overwhelming.

As Shirley McLaine says to Jack Lemmon in The Apartment:
Fran Kubelik: They sent me to secretarial school, and then I applied for a job at "Consolidated". Then I flunked the typing test.
C.C.Baxter: Too slow?
Fran Kubelik: No. I can type up a storm ... I just can't spell.

More from Boakandbailey: "Binge drinking is not the problem — it’s a symptom."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Profiles in beer

Last post I veered off-topic and mentioned a blogging exercise for men who cook vegetarian ... meals. (Almost pulled a Sweeney Todd, I did.)

So, my return to beer blogging might be in order.

The Session is an online event, hosted by a different beer blogger on the first Friday of every month. Writers from around the world produce articles on a common theme. UK blogger Stonch at Stonch's Beer Blog is the 4 April host; a round-up of all participating posts will be published there.

Enjoying beer is as much about people as it is malt and hops. The term "social lubricant" has always seemed a little too euphemistic to me, so lets be honest: having a few pints and getting merry is bloody good fun. That's why we do it.

It's ten times better when you're with good mates, or meeting interesting new people. I've made lots of new friends in my favourite pubs and through my involvement in the beer industry. From the most skillful brewers to the louchest boozehounds, they're the reason why I keep doing this.

On Friday 4th April, the date of the next Session, I'd like you to write about people. Choose someone you know personally. That person might be a brewer, a publican, someone who sups at your local, or maybe just a friend who is passionate about beer. Let's read some pen portraits of your companions on the path to fermented enlightenment.
-- Stonch

What other topics have been covered in The Session? How do you host a The Session? Who 'runs' this thing?

Click on The Session: Beer Blogging Friday for more information.

Where are the veggie-men who cook?

are you male;do you cook vegetarian?
An puzzling observation, and then a challenge, at Eat Air, a blog on vegan cooking:

There are 40 vegan cooking-related blogs now in my RSS reader. Four of them are written by men. I've thought about this disparity in the past and I've been pondering it again recently. Now that I'm going to have a son I don't necessarily want him to be tied to stereotypical gender roles. Darlene does a lot of knitting and sewing and if our son wants to learn those skills I have no problem with that. I certainly want him to learn how to cook. So guys, let's set a good example for him and all the other little (and big) dudes out there. Here's my proposal:

All you female bloggers - convince the men in your lives to cook a meal, then post it on your blogs. For all the men who are already cooking, good on you - post something fun on your blog. When you post something, let me know in the comments here or in an e-mail. If you don't have a blog e-mail me a picture and description of what you've cooked.

Do this by next Sunday, March 30 and I'll compile all the responses here. Feel free to grab the graphic above and use it in your posts. Happy cooking!
*********************************

So, here's my entry.

I served it at Easter Brunch with a glass of Victory Brewing's Prima Pils ... beer. As wine educator Marni Old says in He Said Beer; She Said Wine:
In a cruel twist of fate, a couple of the very worst veggie offenders rank among the culinary elite of vegetables. Both the slender asparagus and the portly artichoke can be self-centered, often leaving their wine partners tasting strangely off-balance and askew.

Roasted Asparagus with Mock Hollandaise

Ingredients
asparagus with mock hollandaise
  • 1/2 pound asparagus
  • sesame seeds
  • 4 TBSP margarine (Earth Balance)
  • 4 TBSP potato starch
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely minced
  • 1 TBSP, garlic, finely minced
  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 TBSP vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked nutmeg

Method

1) Pan-toast a small handful of sesame seeds over medium-high heat in dry pan until fragrant (not burned!).

2) Make a roux.
Heat a pan and melt 4 TBSP margarine over medium-low heat. Slowly blend in 4 TBSP potato starch, whisking constantly until thoroughly mixed. Continue to cook, whisking, until the flour and margarine achieve a copper color. Set aside.

3) Make the hollandaise sauce
In small pot, heat 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil. sauté 1/2 cup finely minced onions over medium-low heat until translucent. Add 1 TBSP minced garlic (and more oil if necessary); sauté until fragrant. Remove from heat.

Add to blender or food processor with 12 oz silken tofu, 2 TBSP lemon juice, 4 TBSP vegetable stock, 1 tsp dry mustard powder, 1 tsp freshly cracked nutmeg, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp kosher salt.

Blend until a smooth consistency.

Return to pot. Add roux. On low heat, mix well. Set aside (or refrigerate for later use.)

4) Prepare asparagus
Take half-pound of asparagus. Cut of stems; trim woody stalks.

Place in bowl and toss with 2 TBSP virgin olive oil, 1 tsp Kosher salt, and 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper.

5) Roast and serve!
Place prepared asparagus on foiled baking sheet. Set oven to 425°F. Roast for 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Top with dollop of mock hollandaise sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

First Narcissus

first narcissus of Spring

May you celebrate a blissful Day of the
First Sunday- after the First Full Moon - after the Vernal Equinox!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Elite 8 madly announced

[UPDATE 2008.04.07: Winner announced!]

The 3rd round of the Washington Post's Beer Madness has been announced: out of 32 beers, an elite 8 remain.

And of the 8 local beers originally selected—meaning those from Baltimore, D.C., Virginia, and Delaware—4 remain, thus making up 50% of the semifinalists.

Last year's winner—Brooklyn Lager—was eliminated by local boy Flying Dog Old Scratch Lager.

And, yes, Flying Dog is indeed DC/Maryland local. The former Denver, Colorado brewery has moved its brewing operations into the old Frederick/Blue Ridge Brewing digs in Frederick, Maryland.

The local beers, still standing, are, in no particular order:

  • Raven Lager
  • Oxford Raspberry Wheat
  • Hook and Ladder Backdraft Brown
  • Flying Dog Old Scratch
This non-scientific competition is for bottled beer only: no draft, or casks, or even growlers of brewpub beers for that matter.

Another aspect of the format has confused many observers. The beers are being judged, and advanced or eliminated, by ten panelists previously selected by the Washington Post. The website, however, shows the tally for the on-line (non-binding)voting, which in many cases contradicts those results. For next year's competition, I would suggest that the Post select only 9 judges, and use the on-line votes as the '10th' judge.

[UPDATE 2008.03.30: Baltimore, Maryland's Oxford Raspberry Wheat lost to Cooperstown, New York's Ommegang Hennepin; Frederick Maryland's Flying Dog Old Scratch lost to Baltimore, Maryland's Raven Lager; Boston, Massachusett's Samuel Adams Honey Porter lost to Silver Spring, Maryland's Hook and Ladder Backdraft Brown.]

Earlier posts:

Düsseldorf beer culture: could it happen here?

In Düsseldorf, the local breweries make altbier, a dry, slightly roasty dark amber ale. Cologne has its own city beer, kölsch, a light-bodied straw-gold ale that’s crisp and refreshing. <...>

These aren’t quaint local choices, surviving only on the patronage of German beer geeks; they dominate the local markets.I’m happy to say that prospects for the future of these two beers are good. Despite the consolidation that has shaken the German brewing industry, the local markets remain devoted to their city beers. [emphasis mine]


A Tale of Two Cities


I've used beer-writer Lew Bryson's northern German travelogue, which he posted yesterday at Condé Nast Portfolio.com, as an example of beer culture, admittedly monoculture.

Could such beer culture happen here in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore? I wrote a few years ago about Baltimore as a beer-drinking town.

Pride in local beer was fierce in that town. But it's a rarer commodity here in the greater Washington, D.C. area. We readily embrace the world, yet only infrequently celebrate the local.

Comparison of D.C.'s beer culture to Philadelphia's here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

30 years of liquid history

Many good-beer partisans will know what the latest 'quadruple wet-hopped 20% abv thingy' is, yet may not know who Don Barkley is, or Jack McAuliffe.

But they should.

Barkley and McAuliffe were and are pioneers of the American good beer renaissance. Beer is liquid history. Not knowing beer's history is not knowing beer.

Read this, from 28 February 2008 at Appellation Beer:

Don Barkley, arguably the closest active link to America’s original microbrewery, is returning to small-scale brewing. The North Bay Business Journal has the scoop.

Visionaries from Mendocino County are looking to break down the walls between fine wine and craft beer in wine country. Don Barkley, a legend in U.S. craft brewing, left his post as master brewer at Ukiah-based Mendocino Brewing Co. in November and is preparing the inaugural releases this spring from a rare winery-brewery in south Napa.

Barkley worked for Jack McAuliffe in the 1970s at New Albion Brewing in Sonoma County shortly after McAuliffe started the first “built new” (it wasn’t really new) microbrewery. Last April when the Brewers Association honored the reclusive McAuliffe it was Barkley who accepted the award.

Barkley retired from Mendocino Brewing in November after nearly 25 years at the brewery. Mendocino acquired much of the new Albion equipment as well as the house yeast after New Albion closed. [His fellow brewer at New Albion, Michael Lovett left Mendocino 10 years ago this month.]


From the North Bay Business Journal:

Mr. Barkley plans to release wheat beer, pale ale and amber ale under the label Napa Smith Brewing Co., named after the ownership, Napa mortgage broker Kathy Smith and her family. She acquired the former Hakusan sake winery at the intersection of highways 12 and 29 in March 2006.

Mr. Barkley, 53, said he made the move from Mendocino Brewing Co. to Napa Smith Brewing Co. to get back to his roots with his family, his brewmaking and his customers. He’s working with a 15-barrel batch brewery versus a 100-barrel one in Hopland. And he misses the feedback he used to get from customers before Mendocino Brewing Co. production facility was moved out of the Hopland brewpub to Ukiah in 1997.

“Jack McAuliffe’s favorite comment was winemakers are poets and beer makers are industrialists,” Mr. Barkley said about the iconic founder New Albion Brewery in Sonoma. “We’re going to see whether an industrialist can become a poet.” About 1,000 barrels of Napa Smith beer will be filled in 22-ounce bottles and marketed to local fine restaurants at about $4 each.

Emphasis mine.

I may sell beer, but I do not believe it merely a 'product'.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lithuanian "snack to beer"

Lithuanian "snacks to beer" was posted last summer by boakandbailey — a pair of British beer bloggers based in London. Better late than never, I'm reposting it here.

Kepta duona—cooked bread [say: KEPT uh _ DOO uh nuh] —is fried rye bread rubbed with garlic and salt. This is not the soft rye bread we ubiquitously see here in the States, but rather the hard, dark, wonderful stuff. And I just happened to purchase some on the way home today.

Garlicky fried bread strips:
It’s not remotely fancy, it’s not good for you, but it’s a great snack to beer for several reasons. Firstly, it’s salty and oily. Now, I know greasy is bad for your beer. It makes it go flat. But, frankly, who cares — it just works.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Veguxtaposition

When describing the contents of the Food Section in today's Washington Post, an editor used this delicious juxtaposition:

Recipes for vegetarians, plus finding the holiday ham of your dreams.

That which we call a beer ...

I recently contributed an auction item for a charity fundraiser: an at-your-house seminar on cheese-with-beer. A Virginia winemaker bid on it and won. He had been intrigued and challenged by my description of the item: Beer is the New Wine.

But is it?

Diary of a Brewer's Hugh Sisson recently blogged the third installment of his series: Beer is the New Wine.

Wine Sommelier Marnie Old and Dogfish Head Brewer Sam Calagione, just this Monday, released their book:
He Said Beer, She Said Wine: Impassioned Food Pairings to Debate and Enjoy -- From Burgers to Brie and Beyond.

Whew, that's a mouthful!

In this promotional video for the book, Old and Calagione banter about their series of Wine vs. Beer Dinners, at which they had paired each course with both a beer and a wine, and asked the participants to indicate which succeeded, tastefully.



In the DC/Baltimore area, to date only Chef Gillian Clark's Colorado Kitchen has hosted a similar Wine vs. Beer Dinner: Battle of the Barrels.

So is 'beer the new wine'?

As Stan Hieronymus said: "New Beer Rule #7: Beer is still beer." As I said: "that's creeping wine envy."

So, what's in a name? That which we call a beer, by any other name, would taste as pleasing.
—with apologies to William Shakespeare—

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Green beer in D.C., naturally

If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, you'll be able to see Wendy Rieger—anchor of the 5pm news broadcast on the NBC affiliate, WRC-TV Channel 4—reporting, this evening, on brewers going 'green'.

She won't be describing the silly US practice of dying beers green on Saint Patrick's Day. Rather, she'll be delineating some of the environmentally-concerned actions taken by the brewing industry.

'Green' isn't merely 'organic'. Sustainability, re-use and cycling, energy-efficiency, low-pollution, and locally-sourced are issues of equivalent importance. In the aired promotional tease, Mike McCarthy—executive brewer of Capitol City Brewing Company—can be heard saying, "I think every brewer can do his part."

'Green' isn't necessarily expansive or expensive.

Bill Madden, brewer at Vintage 50 in Leesburg, Virginia, recently posted this comment to DC-Beer (a listserve for beer lovers in this area)


At Vintage 50 the spent grains from brewing are picked up by a local farmer that feeds it to his cows. The cows eat it and, of course, produce manure, which is aged and then brought back by the farmer for our garden behind the restaurant. Our chef, Aaron McCloud, is planning a garden of tomatoes, squash, herbs, etc., and I plan on growing Cinderella pumpkins for brewing Punkinator this Fall. The vegetable scraps from the kitchen are composted next to the garden and will be tilled into the soil when they break down.

Elegantly simple and potentially delicious.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Beer Risotto

Since tonight is 'guilty until proven innocent' night —aka Saint Patrick's Day/Night and sobriety roadblocks set up all over— I'll be staying right here at home, thank you very much!

04_beer risotto with peas
I cooked up some Beer Risotto last evening. It'll be delicious again tonight, pan-fried with a few dollops of olive oil.

Pasta may be the go-to food for many; it's Risotto for me. Risotto (borrowing from Wikipedia) is a "traditional Italian rice dish cooked with broth and flavored with parmesan cheese and other ingredients, which can include meat, fish, or vegetables."

My rule of thumb for risotto is 2-to-1 stock to arborio rice. And always use arborio rice. I always have plenty of home-made veggie stock on hand, frozen into ice-cubes.

Add to that 3 ounces of a Vienna-style Lager per cup of rice. I use Balto MärzHon from Clipper City Brewing. Failing that, use an amber lager with at least a good hint of toasted malt character.

I usually add frozen peas near the end of the cooking process, but fresh asparagus, diced into small pieces, is delicious. I skip the Parmesan cheese, substituting with 'cheesy' nutritional yeast, sprinkled on top, when serving.

and ... don't forget the Marmite! For more of the recipe and procedures, go here.

Virgina says it's ok for me to pour you a beer!

In late 2007, the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control ruled that I couldn't pour you a beer.

To be precise, it wasn't only me, of course, but any brewery representative that was forbidden from pouring a sample of beer for a customer at a wine/beer shop or supermarket. We brewery representatives were even told not to be present when a sampling was occurring!

An exception was at any store which also held a 'restaurant' license, known in the trade as an on-premise permit.

Relief for my livelihood was needed. And it happened this past Thursday.

On 13 March 2008, Virginia Governor Kaine signed into law HB 694, sponsored by Delegate Ward Armstrong, a Democrat from House District 10 in southern Virginia. It ...

Allows gourmet shop licensees to give samples of wine or beer at tastings sponsored by the licensee for its customers for on-premises consumption. Additionally, with the consent of the licensee, farm wineries, wineries, breweries, and wholesale licensees may participate in tastings held by licensees authorized to conduct tastings, including the pouring of samples to any person to whom alcoholic beverages may be lawfully sold. The bill contains an emergency clause.

That emergency clause allowed the changes to go into effect the very second the Governor signed the bill.

When you see me next, I will pour you a beer— a one ounce sample, that is. Thank you, Delegate Ward and Governor Kaine. Yes, Virginia, there is a beery clause.

Jump here for a report of other changes to Virginia alcohol laws.

Could Philly Beer Week happen here in DC?

Congratulations to Philadelphia and its beer drinkers!

Philly Beer Week—a region-wide celebration of good beer— eventually grew to 2 weeks. It concluded last evening. According to this first post mortem, by Lew Bryson, it was indeed "one for the books."

I wasn't able to attend, but reports from associates and friends were nothing but positive and enthusiastic.

Why was it such a success?

For one thing, Philly-area beer drinkers and retailers support LOCAL beer. And have pride in it. Bar owners there call it the 90-mile rule. That's the imaginary radius they draw; to the breweries within its circle, they offer their loyal support.

Is there beer in Philadelphia bars from elsewhere, from cross-continent, or overseas? Of course! There's much and a great variety. But there exists a fierce local pride and consequent local quality.

Could there be a Washington/Baltimore Beer Week? Yes. Would it be of similar depth and breadth? I don't know.

But I will issue this DC/northern Virginia challenge: go into local bars and beer restaurants (other than brewpubs). Count the number of local taps. A few. (There are some wonderful exceptions.)

And then do this.

Go to Opening Night at Nationals Park. Count the number of local beers.

I'll save you the trouble. The number at the ballpark will be ... ZERO.

For more on Philly Beer Week:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lucy Saunders in Purcellville, Virginia

Tempura Rockfish at Maggie'sIt's a 50 mile bicycle jaunt from the Washington Monument to the terminus of the paved Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Purcellville, Virginia.

And sitting there, a few yards from the trail, is the outdoor patio of Magnolias at the Mill, a Purcellville restaurant and beer pub.

During her event-full week in the DC/VA/Baltimore area, Lucy Saunders accepted a luncheon invitation from the restaurant's Executive Chef Mark Marrocco and Manager Kim Ross.

So one afternoon, we were there at Maggie's, sipping on beer—Lucy, a Stoudt's Scarlet Lady, I, a Bell's Two-Hearted Ale—and enjoying a special tasting menu Chef Marrocco had prepared.

  • Dark beer & cheese fondue
  • Tempura Rockfish
  • Short Ribs over white beansTempura faux Rockfish at Maggie's
The photo to the upper left is of Tempura Rockfish with capers and aioli, on a bench of house-cut fries. Now, to the right, look at the veggie zucchini version—faux Rockfish—that Chef Marrocco made for me. Very clever and very tasty!

More photos here.

I return to Magnolias—without Ms. Saunders, but with the brewing team from Clipper City— on Thursday, 22 May, for a Clipper City Beer Dinner. Mark, Kim, and I are working on the details. Details here on the Organic Beer Dinner.

Bike ride, anyone?

A hairdresser and her beer

Thomas Martin, a barber in Michigan, has been giving his customers a beer to drink while they're getting their hair cut. And he's been breaking the law.

Michigan prohibits businesses from serving alcohol when and where customers are paying for other services. I'd warrant that this may be so in most states.

If an activity connected with the sale or distribution of alcohol is not statutorily allowed—even if it's not specifically proscribed—most state alcohol regulating entities will forbid it.

But another crime of the Michigan barber may have been his choice of beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon.

My hairdresser in Maryland offers her customers a wine or beer—or soda or juice—while having their hair cut, teased, colored, whatever. She, even though a fan of good beer, does however abstain while using her scissors.

And, I am always happy with my cut when I leave.

You see, my hairdresser stocks her refrigerator with Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, an India Pale Ale (I.P.A.).

I was alerted to the Michigan story at RealBeer.com.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Local Beer Madness

The 2nd round of the Washington Post's Beer Madness has been announced: 32 beers winnowed down to a sweet 16.

Out of 8 local beers—those from Baltimore, D.C., and Virginia (and stretching to Delaware)—5 were carried forward.

One match-up was plainly unfair: Dominion's Pale Ale versus Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA. The latter entrant, more flavorful, easily won. A contest between Dominion Pale Ale and Dogfish Shelter Pale Ale would have made more sense. And, as both beers were from local breweries, the pairing was preordained to knock out a local entrant.

One local beer was a sentimental choice, and, really a ringer. National Bohemian, once the choice of 3 out of 4 beer-drinkers in Baltimore, is no longer brewed there, but by the international brewing conglomerate SAB/Miller.

So, this is not really a serious competition, even though I'm certain the judges are doing so conscientiously. As Joe Heim—editor of the Post's Sunday Source— said:

And, really people, shouldn't beer drinking be fun?

The local beers, still standing, are, in no particular order:
  • Flying Dog Old Scratch
  • Raven Lager
  • Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA
  • Oxford Raspberry Wheat
  • Hook and Ladder Backdraft Brown


[UPDATE: 2008.03.22: Elite 8 announced.

No beer for old men

We watched No Country for Old Men last night.

The film depicted (very) graphic violence when such furthered the plot line, but implied the violence when that depiction would have been superfluous or gratuitous. The non-ending ending took this Western-murder-thriller into the (infinitely) broader enigma of life and its purpose.

The film indeed deserved its Oscar awards.

Near the conclusion, there is this line about beer:

Llewelyn Moss: "I know what beer leads to."
Woman sitting at motel pool: "Beer leads to more beer."

Afterwards, I sipped on one Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bacon Beer for vegetarians

Arlington, Va: While I've had friends give me the "bacon" reaction from the Schlenkerla smoked beers, it's not really fair. Both bacon and Rauchbeer are smoked so they have a similar character. This vegetarian loves smoked beer but doesn't really associate it with bacon.

I also love other smoked beers like Alaskan Brewing Co. smoked porter, Special's beers (also from Bamberg), the smoked porter at Bullfrog Brewing in Williamsport Pa., and so on. Wish a local brewery made some so it'd be easier to find...

Greg Kitsock: Actually, brewer Chris Rafferty of the Rock Bottom in Ballston did offer a very good version of a Bamberger Rauchbier last November.

That was part of an on-line exchange on Monday at WashingtonPost.com between Beer Columnist Greg Kitsock and Sunday Source Editor Joe Heim—the organizers of the Post's March Beer Madness Competition—and on-line participants.

There were several interesting topics, such as an enumeration of local watering holes, why the beers that were chosen were chosen, etc. Heim addressed the second this way:
the controversy mostly boils down to complaints about beers that weren't included in the contest and about some that were. Here's our rationale which I hope will nip this in the bud: We didn't want this to be a beer snob contest, so we included a number of mainstream (or, as snobs refer to them, swill)brews in the mix to see how they would stack up against higher end beers. We make absolutely no apologies for doing this as we think it adds to the fun of the whole thing. And, really people, shouldn't beer drinking be fun?

As to why some beers weren't chosen, Kitsock added this ... specifically about Great Lakes (Cleveland, Ohio) and Three Floyds (Munster, Indiana):
Great Lakes doesn't distribute in our area; I've occasionally seen Three Floyds beers, but their availability is very sporadic. Both are first-class breweries, and I wish we could have included a representative from each.
  • Transcript of the on-line discussion here.
  • My post on Beer Madness here.
Like many others who take pleasure in food and drink, I have a somewhat robust gustatory memory (as opposed to my short term memory, which is itself fading fast).

And, I do remember my first Aecht Schlenkerla Ur-bock. In fact, I was a late convert, perhaps 1990 or 1991.

One autumn evening, I was tasting unfamiliar beers at the Brickskeller in Washington, DC with a female companion and Jim Dorsch. Jim was then a contributor to the BarleyCorn, predecessor to the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

Both my friend and I at first turned up our noses at Jim's proffer of his smoky, meaty Rauchbier.

But we both, eventually, trepidatiously, sipped. And when we went to sip again, Jim politely suggested that we buy our own. We did, and were hooked.

She went on to sell gourmet foods in Washington, DC; and I, beer—including, for awhile, Schlenkerla.

Many Baltimore/DC-ers also have fond if bittersweet (or would that be smoky) memories of the late DeGroen's pungent and malty Rauchbier, since it is, alas, no longer brewed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Orval and creeping wine envy

I recently had a discussion with a beer partisan—really more of a monologue by me— about the often repeated yet incorrect comparison of pinnacle-of-fresh 'wet-hopped' beers to wine's jejune Beaujolais Nouveau.

Then, I saw this quote, attributed to Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River, on Stan Hieronymous' blog:

Orval elevates beer to a level of wine in that it can age, and change, and be a different beer. In a way that is what we are trying to do with a lot of our beers.

I don't mean to call out that beer partisan, a fan of good beer, or Mr. Cilurzo, a brewer of good beer, but we beer enthusiasts need to get over our creeping wine envy.

Wine is wine. Beer is beer; it's a damn fine beverage all by itself. There is no need to 'embiggen' beer by elevating it to a state of almost being like wine.

Doing so, indeed, diminishes beer.

Heironymous in turn mentioned a post by Lew Bryson.

Lew had recently drunk the Trappist beer Orval, while over there, in Europe. At his blog, he figuratively exclaimed—"I've never had this beer before"—astonished by the beer's freshness. Others usually extol Orval only after wine-ishly aging it.

I delight—back here in the USA—in Orval with all of its feral Brettanomyces yeast character and hoppy dryness.

But I envy Mr. Bryson, who tasted it fresh!

Batter ale

You might not want to drink this.

It was the final pour —the dregs if you will— from a firkin of Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale that was featured during last week's beer dinner in honor of chef/cookbook author Lucy Saunders at the Royal Mile Pub.

The Pub's chef—Ian Morrison—regularly uses ale in fish-and-chips batter. He noted that this was the first time he'd used cask ale, however.

Beer cuisine can be as simple as this.

But refrain from using the cheapest lagered swill. The flavor will carry through.

At a brew pub, for example, a chef could easily use spent grains in his pizza or bread dough for crunchy texture, or use unhopped sweet wort as a sweetener. In 1996 while I was brewing for the Manayunk Brewing, our chef did both; the unhopped wort he reduced for his demi-glace.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Beer is bad for you ... no, wait, it's good for you

LONDON (Reuters) - Drinking alcohol, even moderate amounts, may boost blood pressure more than previously thought, British researchers said on Tuesday.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

But then, three days later:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - People who started drinking in middle age were 38 percent less likely to have a heart attack or other serious heart event than abstainers -- even if they were overweight, had diabetes, high blood pressure or other heart risks, Dr. Dana King of the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and colleagues found.
Friday Mar 7, 2008

Who you gonna call?

March Beer Madness

The initial brackets of the 2nd annual Washington Post Beer Madness appeared in the paper's Sunday Source section this morning.
The Post's beer columnist Greg Kitsock (also the editor of the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News) and The Sunday Source's Joe Heim selected the initial 32 beers.

On the upper right side of the brackets in the Specialty/Fruit match-ups, my brewery's Oxford Raspberry Wheat is paired against Pyramid's Apricot Weizen .

The 10 panelists, who will judge the beers, were chosen based upon their on-line submissions. I had submitted: "I sell beer, and I wear a tie." I wasn't chosen. Conflict of interest, maybe?

  • On-line, it's interactive: you can match wits with the judge panelists.
  • My earlier post about Beer Madness is here.
  • UPDATE 2008.03.15: here.
  • UPDATE 2008.03.22: here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Home-brewing fee license nixed for now

*From:* Joe Foley
*Sent:* Tuesday, February 26, 2008 10:22 AM
*To:* Schuler, Todd Delegate; Boteler, Joseph Delegate; Bromwell, Eric
Delegate
*Subject:* House Bill 674

Hello Gentlemen,

News of House Bill 674 has recently popped up on several maryland homebrew & beer listserves and i'm trying to get some more information on what the intent is behind this legislation. in creating a "home brewing instructors permit" is the intent to require a permit for a *all* home brewing instruction (ie, me going over to a friend's house and helping him out the first time he brews a batch of beer) or to allow people/businesses to charge for this instruction. there seem to be two schools of thought and i was wonder which is true (or closer to the truth).

thanks in advance

Joe Foley
Homebrewer
Silver Spring, Md.

**************************************************************************************

From: Boteler, Joseph Delegate <Joseph.Boteler@house.state.md.us>
Date: Fri, Mar 7, 2008 at 2:45 PM
Subject: RE: House Bill 674
To: Joe Foley

Thank you for contacting me regarding *House Bill 674*, entitled *Alcoholic Beverages - Home Brewing Instructor's Permit*. I appreciate hearing from my constituents in the 8th District.

This bill came about after we were contacted that the State was interfering with home brewing classes in our district. In fact, the home brewer that contacted us was actually fighting being shut down by the state because the state claimed he could not teach these classes. In an effort to correct this problem and codify that home brewing was legal, HB 674, was drafted.

Unfortunately, I was misinformed about certain provisions of the bill and did not realize that there was a permit fee attached. I have been opposed to the many tax increases recently passed by the state and certainly would be opposed to this kind of fee.

Fortunately, I realized this and decided not to support the bill. I am very happy to relate to you that House Bill 674 was voted down by the Economic Matters Committee. If this bill is reintroduced next year I will not support it if it has a permit fee.

Thank you again for contacting my office. Please feel free to contact me again with any questions or concerns you may have.

Sincerely:
Joe Boteler, III
Delegate

[Reprinted with permission from Joe Foley.]

Unfortunately, the vote-down does not appear to prohibit the Maryland ATTB from licensing the teaching of homebrewing. It simply does not explicitly authorize it.

Alcohol regulators often deem that that which is not explicitly permitted is therefore implicitly proscribed, and vice-versa.

Original story here.

Unwrapping the cheddar

bandage-wrapped cave-aged Wisconsin cheddar
In preparation for the week's activities, Chef Lucy Saunders had shipped her cooking implements ahead of her.

And carefully wrapped inside the bag, then re-wrapped, and wrapped again, was a wheel of cave-aged cheddar from Wisconsin, 1-3/4 years old [from Willi Lehner's Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds, WI].

Two years ago, when new, it had weighed 10 pounds. Now, it was 8 pounds, due to moisture evaporation while aging. The cheese seemed to combine the savory/sweaty aspects of Parmesan with the nutty/sharp flavors of Cheddar. Some who tasted it ascribed the weight loss —after a couple of beers— to the "angels' toes share".
Chef Saunders peels the bandage from the cave-aged cheddar.
I assisted Lucy in un-bandaging it. You'll notice the gloves we were wearing; they kept our hands aroma-free.

the bandage removed from the cheddar wheelLucy began by prying one edge of the bandage from the side of the wheel. Then she pulled and sliced the bandage clear from all sides. It took awhile; the cloth was stuck fast to the cheese.

Even after peeling off the bandage, many fragments of the cloth remained stuck to the wheel as were specks of mold— signs indeed of successful aging, but not necessarily appetizing.

Lucy scraped them all off with a grill brush.


Chef Morrison—and bicyclist—is pleased with the cheddar
Just as we finished, Ian Morrison—chef at The Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Maryland—returned from a four-hour bike ride. (In addition to owning the Pub, he is an avid bicyclist and racer.)

As you can see, Ian was genuinely surprised and pleased by Lucy's gift of the Bleu Mont Dairy Cheddar wheel.

The next evening, for the Beer Cookbook dinner at his Royal Mile Pub, Ian plated some of the cheddar for an amuse-bouche.

Click for more photos.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Drink fresh, drink local

On Tuesday 11 March, I'll be discussing "Drink fresh, drink local" at the Whole Foods Market in Tysons Corner. It's a timely topic, I believe, in light of concurrently rising beer prices and worsening overall economic conditions.

The hour-long presentation won't be all gloom and doom, however. Manager Jeff Forrest will be pouring five Clipper City beers and pairing them with 5 artisinal cheeses. There's no cost, but please call the store to reserve a seat for the 7pm tasting: 703.448.1600.

Beer cooks in Baltimore

It's not quite an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records—even though the beery analogy might be appropriate. But beer scribe Alexander D. Mitchell IV blogged live—over three days—from the 72 Hours of Belgium Festival in Baltimore.

I marvel that he and his computer survived all those high-octane beers!

Anyway, it has been quite the challenge for me to faithfully record—in anything close to real time— all of the events this week with chef and author Lucy Saunders here in the greater Washington, D.C. Baltimore area.

... and to thank all of the wonderful people who contributed and participated.

The week concluded last evening, as Hugh Sisson welcomed Ms. Saunders to Clipper City Brewing for a catered dinner in her honor with fellow members of of the press and people in the trade.

Chef Jerry Edwards of Chef's Expressions prepared a 5 course meal. He used beer as an ingredient in several of the dishes; he paired each dish with a Clipper City beer; and he cooked from the recipes in Ms. Saunders book: The Best of American Beer and Food.

Doug Roberts of WBAL Radio's Beltway Gourmet was there with a microphone. Hear his interview here.

During the dinner, Chef Edwards, Lucy, and Hugh talked on the issues of pairing beer and food, and on cooking for and with beer. It was an interesting discussion, so when time permits, I'll post my notes.

Ms. Saunders leaves our area today and is on to Philadelphia for Philly Beer Week.

Friday she celebrates with Joe Sixpack—Don Russell— at the The Marketplace at East Falls at a release party for his new book, Joe Sixpack's Philly Beer Guide.

Then Sunday, she is a featured guest, along with Carol Stoudt of Stoudt's Brewing—and others— at Devil's Alley for a five-course tasting of savory barbeque. Devil's Alley chef Michael Yeamans is preparing each dish with cocoa and chocolate(!), and pairing them with craft beer.

If you miss the event— at Devil's Alley— Ms. Saunders expounds on the savory aspect of chocolate (as she briefly did last evening) in her book, Grilling with Beer.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lucy Saunders in Leesburg, Virginia

Have cask, will travel: Tuskies' Shanw Malone
Shawn Malone and Patrick Dinh of Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg, Virginia — General Manager and Executive Chef, respectively — hosted chef and cookbook author Lucy Saunders last evening with a dinner and double cask tapping.


Special guest was Clipper City Brewing's General Partner Hugh Sisson who brought along 6 of his beers, including two casks.

Chef Patrick Dinh 'tweaked' the recipes in Ms Saunders' cookbookBest of American Beer & Food creating a menu with Asian flair while not being overtly Asian food.

Later this week, I'll re-post in more detail. Tuskies cooks from Lucy Saunders' cookbook!

The DINNER

Pictured to the right are two of the evening's courses. In the foreground is Angry Shrimp, Szechuan Style. (In Ms. Saunders' book, the recipe is actually with Lobster.)

The shrimp had an elegant spiciness with a good concentration of flavor. Shawn paired it with Clipper City's Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale, pulled fresh via handpump from a 'pin' cask. The beer's hoppiness complemented the dish's spice.

In the background is the starter course: Lager Steamed Mushroom Dumplings with Balto MärzHon Sweet and Sour Sauce. It was paired — naturally — with Clipper City's Balto MärzHon. The flavorful sauce, made with the beer, added interest.

The CASKS

Tuskies' Shawn Malone and Clipper City's Thomas CizauskasNext up was Fennel Crusted Rack of Lamb, with Barley Risotto and Peg Leg Stout Sauce, served with a 2nd fresh cask, but of Peg Leg Imperial Stout. There were many audible oohs and aahs — and empty plates — accompanying this course and compliments on the quality of the lamb itself and the seasoning. During the week, Lucy Saunders had mentioned several times that fennel seems to be a flavor inherent to the fermentation of beer itself.

I often am told that I expound at length about the freshness of cask ale. This evening was no exception, freshness being indeed the meme of beer. And several diners did come up to me afterward to remark on how they now understood the fuss about freshness of cask beer.

The Skirt Steak was an adaptation of the Short Ribs recipe in Ms. Saunder's book. The onion seasoned with cumin and peppers brought complexity to the richness of the meat. I had recommended raclette potatoes to Chef Dinh ... and he ran with the idea!

BEER and CHEESE

A blue cheese from Wisconsin provided a digestif pause before dessert: a sheep's milk blue cheese from Shepherd's Way Dairy in Minnesota, served with a smear of pear coulis. Shawn paired it with Clipper City's Below Decks Barleywine, 2007 vintage. To my palate, malt-forward barleywines and blue cheeses are wonderful flavor-dancing partners.

BEER and PIE

For a pre-dinner planning session, I had managed to find a case of last summer's Hang Ten -- a 10% alcohol by volume (abv) weizen dopplebock. Tasting it, Patrick immediately exclaimed, "This is for dessert!"

And so it was! He prepared a Coconut Cream Pie, which mated deliciously with the beer's banana and fruity esters, sweet cooking spice aromas, and low-tuned fruit maltiness. Together, they accentuated spiciness while smoothing out the luxurious sweetness.

The pie was topped with beer-marshamallows (!), the recipe for which is in Ms. Saunders book.

DIGISTIF

Hearty applause welcomed Chef Dinh and staff, Shawn Malone, Lucy Saunders, and Hugh Sisson at the dinner's conclusion. Lucy signed several copies of her books Grilling with Beer and Best of American Beer & Food.

By the way, as I am a vegetarian, I did not partake of several of the dishes, but certainly did observe and inquire.

During the evening, I had the opportunity to sit with Dave Turley, author of the beer blog Musings Over a Pint. We two bloggers had a very enjoyable chat.

Go here for the complete menu, and here for more photos.

Earlier in the day, Ms. Saunders and I had traveled a dozen miles further west for a special lunch at Tuskies' sister restaurant in Purcellville: Magnolias at the Mill. Go here for that.