Sunday, August 31, 2008

Big O and Dukes

Chad Dukes of WJFK likes Clipper CityChad Dukes, co-host of the Big O and Dukes radio program on WJFK-FM in northern Virginia, holds a bottle of Clipper City Brewing's Small Craft Warning Uber Pils.

Go here to listen to the Friday radio interview with Hugh Sisson, General Partner of the Clipper City.

Caveat: I sell this beer. Regardless of that, here're some trenchant comments during the broadcast from Sisson concerning beer styles and beer stylistas:

There are alway people who tell me that my beer is very good but it doesn't fit the stylistic parameters that they were looking for. There are only a couple of things you need to know: Did you like? Would you buy it? Would you pay that price for it? If all three of the answers are yes, I won. Don't be pedantic.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Re-Tours at Dominion

Dominion Brewing CoThere's been a lot of local tsk-tsking on the web about recent events at the Old Dominion Brewing Company.

And here at, I too can be wistful about the older days of local beer ... but wistful doesn't pay salaries or provide livelihoods to the folks who make the beer we enjoy.

So all of us, including, need to take a sip, reflect a moment, and remember that Old Dominion Brewing Company is still a local brewery producing beers brewed and sold by local people. A brewery is a business first, a beer 'geekery' second.

In that regard, I talked recently with Casey Hollingsworth, VP Sales & Marketing at Coastal Brewing —Dominion's local parent company— about the suspension of tours at Dominion.

And that's the key, he assures me: it's a suspension, a short suspension, until alcohol code legalities are worked out. (As someone who sells beer and wine in Virginia, I personally must deal with a confusing raft of differing regulations about selling, sampling, and representing beer and wine. Failure to comply can result in hefty fines or revocation of a license.)

And when these legal logistics are resolved, Casey tells me, not only will Dominion's tours resume but so will brewery open houses and special events. Good news indeed!

[UPDATE 2008.10.21: Dominion to be closed in early 2009.]

Michael Jackson: remembering

In the spring of 1995, I spent an afternoon with Michael Jackson.

Jackson had long been planning a book on the burgeoning microbrewery scene of the US. He was planning on conducting the research that year. Of course, such research would have entailed numerous brewery visits and much beer sampling. One wag had hailed it as "Michael Jackson - The Iron Liver Tour".

Jackson eventually aborted the idea. The craft brewery movement was so vibrant —so many breweries opening and closing— that the book would have been out-of-date before it had even been published.

But the plan was still fresh when Jackson jetted into Baltimore-Washington International Airport one early March afternoon 1995 to begin his note taking. His local chauffeur was Jim Dorsch, soon to become the editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News.

Oxford Brewing Company, now closed, was only a couple of miles from the airport; I was the brewery manager. Oxford was Jackson's first stop.

All of us at the brewery were thrilled that the great man was visiting our brewery. And trepidatious! Would he like our beer?

We followed and watched as Jackson accepted small sips of our various beers, from the tap, and from the fermenters. We looked for clues as to what he thought. But Jackson, ever inscrutable, would only sip, give the beer a look over his glasses perched down his nose, and scribble into his notepad.

He asked me a few questions, and the visit concluded. He invited me to accompany them into Baltimore. Not hesitating, I accepted.

We visited the Teutonically-tilting Baltimore Brewing Company (DeGroen's). We observed the stone beer process at Brimstone Brewing, located in a small corner of the former National Brewing Company, in Highlandtown. We stopped at the Wharf Rat Pub with its English-styled bitters and ales.

At each brewery, it would be the same.

Jackson would sip proffered samples, quietly ask questions as to brewing parameters —alcohol by volume, original gravity, bittering units, degrees of color, ingredients, processes, style designation, etc.— and then scribble notes, all without revealing any opinions. His voice, soft-spoken, could be hard-to-grasp with his Yorkshire accent. Very even keel, very fair .... quite the contrast with the agitated states of all us brewers.

We finished in the early evening at Sisson's Brewpub. There, we were greeted by General Manager Jack Callanan who led us to a table and offered us dinner.

First, though, Jackson was given samples of all the current house-brews. Peering over the rims of his glasses, he sipped and took notes. Jackson could be a marvelous storyteller —in person, as he was in his books. And he was so that evening. But as to his opinions on the beers, he remained mum. Callanan looked beseechingly at me. I could only shrug.

Dinner was served; Sisson's was known for its Creole-inspired cuisine. Each of us drank a pint of Stockade Ale, the house pale ale. We finished dinner, and the plates and glasses were cleared away, Jackson's beer only partially consumed. The waitress, young and attractive, returned. Would Mr. Jackson care to hear about the house desserts, she inquired.

Michael Jackson —quiet, sober, and inscrutable all day— now looked up rapidly, and with a broad smile and a loud voice declared: "Why, yes, yes! Definitely, yes! What are you offering?"

He chose chocolate.

A few minutes later, no cake remained on Jackson's plate.

Beer may have been Michael Jackson's livelihood, but on that day it was a chocolate cake and an attractive waitress that had stoked his enthusiasm. The great beer advocate had taught this beer geek a lesson in measure. There is indeed life beyond beer.

Remembering Michael Jackson today, a year after his passing.

Where have they this mettle?
Is not their climate foggy, raw, and dull,
On whom, as in despite, the sun looks pale,
Killing their fruit with frowns? Can sodden water,
A drench for sur-reined jades, their barley broth,
Decoct their cold blood to such valiant heat?
- Shakespeare: Henry V

Michael Jackson
27 March 1942- 30 August 2007

Vegetarians at the beer breakfast

Chef Morrison discusses menuI'm a vegetarian who appreciates that fine vegetarian foodstuff —beer. Thus it was quite accommodating of the Royal Mile Pub's Chef Ian Morrison to offer vegetarian choices at his recent beer breakfast.

At my blog post recapping the breakfast, a reader had this request:

As a beer loving vegetarian I'd appreciate it if you could go more in detail on the veggie options offered and how they paired with the beers

Orange Cranberry Scones, Potato Pancakes with Creme Fraiche, Beignets, Cheese Rolls
This was vegetarian, but not vegan (cheese, eggs). We vegetarians were also offered asparagus wrapped in a yellow bell pepper sheet.

The beer pairing— Clipper City Hang Ten Weizen Dopplebock— with its strong banana, allspice, and chocolate flavors, was almost like an additional appetizer. We reserved half of this 10% alcohol by volume beer (abv). More on that later.

Cherry Whole Grain Pancakes with Quelque Chose Syrup
Vegetarian, but not vegan: eggs and milk in the pancake.

When I prepare pancakes at home, I substitute soy milk, hefeweizen, and banana for the milk and eggs in the batter. Chef Morrison's syrup —made with a reduction of a tart strong cherry beer from Unibroue just outside of Montreal— was delicious!

The pairing was less successful: a Berliner-weisse style beer from in Leipzig Germany. Appropriate for the style, it contained only only 3% abv. But I found it a light, less sour interpretation of the classic style. It was served with a side of raspberry syrup (with which to spike the beer, as done in Germany). This may have been a better beer with which to begin the breakfast.

Housemade Smoked German Style Sausage with Cumberland Sauce
Paired with Paulaner Salvator
Vegan: Boca brand sausage, sauerkraut, port-wine citrus Cumberland sauce. Good hearty, classic pairing.

Pork Schnitzel or Gravlax scrambled eggs
Vegan option: baked beans over toast with roasted tomato slices, veggie-fried frites.

I paired with a smoked beer, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauch Marzen. Other options were Clipper city's Small Craft Warning Über Pils —that many paired with their Gravlax eggs— and Tröegenator Double Bock.

chocolate cake and Aventinus

Individual Chocolate Cake
Vegetarian, but not vegan: dairy and egg.
Schneider Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock (8% abv) was simply delicious with the cake. The kitchen had prepared these 40+ individual chocolate cakes, no easy feat for a a simultaneous presentation.

Several us compared the Aventinus with the Hang Ten. The brown hues were similar, as were the fruity aromas and flavors. Hang Ten had a slightly hotter character from its higher alcohol level.

By the way, Great Sage, a local vegetarian restaurant, produced a beer dinner in July at which all the food was vegetarian. Read more here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

So you want to open a nice cozy restaurant?

Have you ever wondered why restaurants mark-up double or more on wine, beer, and food? Have you ever grumbled, "I can get that cheaper at the store?"

Then, read this:

It's a rough-and-ready evaluation of the costs required to renovate an old, small, building into the bare minimum needed to house a restaurant. It does not include the actual costs needed to operate a restaurant.

The building is vacant and in need of many repairs, and is located in a Washington, D.C. neighborhood that has been seeing a lot of small-scale re-development (Trinidad area along H Street NE).

For 2,700 square feet, the asking price is ... $1,500,000!

The most rent someone can charge right now on H Street NE is $22 a foot. That means you would pay about $59,000 a year in rent.

$5000 a month in rent for some lucky tenant.

Now, the bank likes to assume any place has a 10 year lease. All yearly rents for valuation sake are timed by 10.So, what this building will appraise for is $600,000. If the appraiser is drunk, add $100,000 just for hype's sake. The most the building could sell for is $700,000.

If a person buys the building, they would then have to put $300-$350,000 to get a certificate of occupancy, getting it into 'restaurant shape' before having any cushion in the account to run for training, payroll, slush fund, etc.:
  • $30-40,000 heating and air conditioning
  • $25,000 electrical
  • $10,000 to Pepco [electric utility] for a heavy up
  • $20,000 plumbing
  • $10,000 water service from street
  • $20,000 sprinkler system
  • $5,000 concrete slab back patio
  • $15,000 architect
  • $50,000 rent while waiting for plans to be approved
  • $10,000 lawyers fees after neighborhood protest [priceless!]
  • $20,000 business and construction insurance
  • $20,000 [stove] hood and venting system
  • $20,000 floors
  • $10,000 new beams and joists
  • $150,000--kitchen equipment, furniture, bar, register system [and that's bare bones]
Inner Stairwell of Granville Moore's
The analysis was written by Joe Engert, someone who is in a strong position to offer it. He is an investor in Granville Moore's, a Belgian-inspired bistro and beer bar situated directly next door to the building for sale.

The link here will take you to a report on a review (mostly favorable) of Granville Moore's. Go to the comments section for Engert's comments.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


My surname might be Cizauskas, but my Lithuanian language skills are sorely lacking.

So, when I recently came across a Lithuanian language "bloguose" (blog) devoted to "alus" (beer) that lists Yours For Good as one of only six "Uzsienyje" beer blog links (that's "English-language"), I enlisted a family "drogas" (friend) for assistance with translation.

Tikras alus - geras alus is the name of the blog. That's "Real Ale - Good Ale".

And the masthead reads: "Alus ne vanduo, kunigs ne piemuo". That's a bit of student doggerel that roughly translates as "Beer is not water; the monks are not fools."

And with photos like this one, it's a great site ... even if I can't read it.

Alus ne vanduo, kunigs ne piemuoAs for me, the blog author says I am an "Amerikos Lietuvis, profesionalus aludaris" (that last word is "beermaker"). I'll take it.

So, to my Lithuanian beer-loving brethren: Sveikas!

A 'convenient' truth: Dominion's pub closed

Coastal Brewing was formed last year, when Fordham Brewing of Annapolis, Md. partnered with Anheuser-Busch to purchase the Old Dominion Brewing Company of Ashburn, Va. Now, as reported at Musings Over A Pint, Coastal's devolution of Dominion continues apace.

And here's Coastal comment about the shuttering of the pub (not the brewery) posted on Dominion's website:
This decision will have no impact on other operations of Coastal Brewing Company. Brands under both the Old Dominion and Fordham names will continue to be distributed and marketed along the east coast of the U.S.

We apologize for any convenience [sic] this may cause.
That unintentional gaffe (since corrected) seemed to emphasize that, after all, it's just about business. The brewery has canceled temporarily suspended tours. [An update on their resumption here.]

But as to whether or not this "will have no impact on other operations" of Coastal Brewing, blogger and beer writer Andy Scribe Crouch offers this analysis at his blog, Beer Scribe.

The departure in July of Scott Zetterstrom, Coastal’s vice-president of Brewing Operations who had a long history with Old Dominion, was a sign portending recent events that many of us missed.
Very few brewers from Dominion's pre-Coastal days remain at the brewery. Institutional memory is a critical part of any business, let alone brewery.

I think at this point the real question for Old Dominion fans is what will become of the brands and the brewery in the future.
While many younger good beer drinkers today don't remember the bad old days of good beer scarcity, Dominion was indeed begun with great promise in the early 1990s. Its sale and now the closure of its pub are somatic pangs for me and other 'beery' northern Virginia-ers.

As Coastal runs another facility in Annapolis, Maryland–one that is large enough with expansion to cover all the company’s brands–the inefficiencies of running two small facilities will inevitably lead to a consolidation of production.
Coastal's offices and original Fordham Brewery pub (aka Ram's Head, no longer brewing) are indeed located in Annapolis, Maryland. But Coastal's other production facility is actually located in Dover, Delaware. [Since corrected at Andy's blog.]

The combination of expensive rent at the Ashburn, Va. facility with no revenue stream from a pub makes the elimination of redundant facilities a certainty. A move of all operations to corporate tax-friendly Delaware has indeed seemed likely since the Fordham/Anheuser-Busch purchase.

And then Andy gets to the meat of the matter:
Craft beer partners of Anheuser-Busch have to be concerned about the effect the merger with InBev will have on their operations and place in the corporate pecking order. In a business sphere where the corporate parent is producing several hundred million barrels of beer per year, how much interest do you think the company, especially one with InBev’s track record towards small breweries, will have for a measly 19,000 barrels [Dominion, last year, down from a high of 28,000]? Or even for one with 88,000 barrels (Goose Island), 253,000 barrels (Widmer), or 206,000 barrels (Redhook)?
Coastal is owned 51% by Fordham Brewing and 49% by Anheuser-Busch, which is itself about to be purchased by conglomerate InBev of Belgium/Brazil.

I don't believe that that merger will have much effect on Coastal. A sale or dissolution of Coastal Brewing would count little toward retiring ABIB's (Anheuser-Busch InBev) massive $52 billion dollars of merger debt. Indeed, an observer of the local beer scene mused this:
InBev is not going to concern itself with its craft holdings, at least at first. The capital invested in them is so small compared to the $52 billion dollars of debt accrued by the purchase that a sell-off would do very little to help.

Monday, August 25, 2008

a sustainable paradigm for hops?

Hops grown outside a Wheaton, Md. restaurant.
A hop bine grows in Wheaton
Organic hops has taken a foothold as a nascent new industry in Colorado. Years of state wide interest and research by Colorado State University culminated last weekend in the first “Sustainable Hops Growing Workshop” held in Hotchkiss, Colorado. Put on by Dr. Ed Page of CSU Extension and Ron Godin of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Rogers Mesa, the workshop saw over 70 attendees

Lead by Dr. Ron Godin, Researcher at the Rogers Mesa Experiment Station, and Ali Hamm, Masters Student at the Fort Collins campus, CSU has shown that hops grow quite well under organic conditions in the western Colorado climate. Colorado’s high and dry climate aids in reducing pest and disease pressure on the hops, and our plentiful sunshine and cool nights lends excellent growth and quality.

More from Chris O'Brien's Beer Activist blog:
Organic Hops Catch On in Colorado

My previous post looking at sustainable wine methods, with comments about applicability to hops.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pictures from a breakfast, with beer

Appetizers with Hang Ten Weizen Dopplebock

Chef/owner Ian Morrison of The Royal Mile Pub in Wheaton, Md. produced his second-ever beer-breakfast this morning. It was a six course meal --breakfast and brunch fare-- prepared with beer, and served with beer. And served at 10am!

Among his comments after the breakfast was concluded, Chef Morrison observed that when he had been preparing his menu, he had found North American versions of the beers to be, if not better than imports, at least fresher, and thus better tasting. Drink fresh, drink local!

Several breakfast-ers, including this one, also thanked Morrison for readily substituting vegetarian options for several of the courses. For instance, he had veggie sausage ready to plate for the house-made smoked sausage.
At one point, a customer, sitting not at the event but at the bar, asked me what was going on. "A beer breakfast," I replied.

"I don't drink beer at breakfast," he grumbled over his coffee. Ahh! There would be more beer for us.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Toast and dram

When I was asked recently —by a wine guy— if anybody could actually like beer, I replied that I assumed the question was merely rhetorical.

But if I had been Michael Jackson, I might have replied as he wrote:

"Do you ever drink wine?" people ask me, as though beer were a prison rather than a playground. A day may pass when I do not drink wine, but never a week. Whatever is argued about other pleasures, it is not necessary to be monogamous in the choice of drink. Beer is by far the more extensively consumed, but less adequately honored. In a small way, I want to help put right that injustice."

Michael Jackson —no, not that other Michael Jackson, but the erudite man of books on beer— died almost a year ago now on 30 August 2007.

When Jackson began his prolific beer-writing career in the 1970s, good beer was somewhat scarce. Thus hunting for good beer, he became known as the Beer Hunter. As such, he trail-blazed the idea of beer styles, promulgating the recognition of beer type as defined by geographical region.

Jackson was suffering from Parkinson's at the time of his death (the symptoms of which, some poltroons had confused with public drunkenness). A National Toast was held in his honor a month later on 30 September 2007 with proceeds going to the National Parkinsons' Foundation.

Apropos of that, I've just received this email from my friends at the Thirsty Monk, a Belgian beer bar in in Asheville, North Carolina.
Tuesday, September 30, 6-9pm

Join us in raising our glasses to the memory of man who did more than anyone to further the cause of good beer, the Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson. Celebrating the second annual Michael Jackson Toast, the Thirsty Monk will feature local Western North Carolina microbreweries, Belgian beer specials and a cask from Highland Brewery brewed especially for this event! The official toast will be at 7 pm EST [more likely EDT]. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit The National Parkinson Foundation.

By the way, this is the only mention I have heard of any recognition for this year; I'm hoping that more will follow.

As for me, I will be with friends on AUGUST 30th, toasting (fellow Lithuanian) Mr. Jackson's honor with a wee dram of Scotch whisky (his other passion and topic), and reading aloud passages from his writings.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A brew for the Zoo

a brew for the Zoo, says this pirate
Pirate lass
Originally uploaded by cizauskas
It was the annual Brew at the Zoo yesterday evening from 6-9PM at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.

This is an annual fundraiser sponsored by FONZ —the Friends of the National Zoo. About 20 breweries —and almost as many local restaurants— volunteered their time and donated their wares.

Different than at some other beer festivals, the food at Brew at the Zoo is indeed restaurant fare, not merely hot dogs and pretzels.
  • A few photos here.
  • A longer post about last year's festival here.

Caveat Lector

In the interest of transparency, I should state that I sell beer and wine for Select Wines, Inc., a wholesaler in northern Virginia.

A partial listing of the beers Select Wines represents includes Flying Dog, Clipper City, Otter Creek, Stoudts, Allagash, Brooklyn, Lancaster, River Horse, Raven, and several imports.

The list of wines is quite extensive.

The contents of Yours For Good are my personal views, and not necessarily those of Select Wines, Inc. or any other person or entity.

As per Creative Common Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, he contents of this site may be reproduced, but only for non-commercial purposes.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Maryland Beer Map

Live in or near Maryland? Like beer?

If so, you might wish to refer to this Map of Maryland Breweries.

It was created by blogger Baltimore Beer Guy. He also has a useful list of shops in Maryland (and some in DC) at which to purchase good beer.

If a shop —or brewery/pub— is not listed and should be, contact him!

Beer and cheese are natural partners

Beer and cheese are natural partners. They require care and attention in production, share an extraordinary inherent diversity and, best of all, pair deliciously with each other.

But like beer, cheese can be complicated. Sure you can buy a block of "Cheddar" or "Swiss" in the supermarkets and make an acceptable grilled-cheese sandwich. But that's like limiting yourself to I.L.L.s (International Light Lagers). Today, there are thousands of artisinal cheeses available from around the world. They rival artisinal beers in their delicacy, complexity, and distinctive character of their flavors.

They also mirror artisinal beers in more frustrating ways. Many are made in limited quantities, and so take more effort to find. They can be more expensive, costing $30 per pound or even more, and they need special handling. And although some cheeses share the same name, not every producer delivers equal quality (similar to Miller calling its Lite a fine Pilsner). <...>

Try artisinal beers with some fine cheeses. A good marriage makes both partners better.

This was written by the editors of the Wine Spectator magazine.

Well, maybe not exactly.

It is indeed the Letter from the Editor ("This Issue") from the 30 September 2008 issue of the magazine (which I purchased on 20 August!). But I have redacted it, so that wherever Marvin Shanker and Thomas Matthews said wine, I said beer.
Black and Blue
Here's another passage from that same issue of Wine Spectator:
According to common lore, matching wine and cheese is a no-brainer. But when a rich, plush red wine meets a fresh, tangy chèvre, it causes an unpleasant tannin explosion in the mouth. And a delicate red Burgundy can turn nasty against the mold taste and creamy nature of a Roquefort.

So, try beer: saison with "tangy chèvre" and gueuze-lambic with tangier, aged goat cheeses.
The "classic" cheese plate—one fresh cheese, one hard, one blue, and one stinky and soft—doesn't work with wine. It's like trying to match one wine with oysters, fish, steak, and chili.

But such a plate does "work with" beer! One beer, chameleon-like, will play differently and successfully with each cheese.

Beware of softer-textured cheeses, which can make red wines taste thin and can emphasize the tannins. strong flavors tend to defeat red wines, tart goat cheeses can simplify them, and washed-rind cheese and blues compete harshly with their flavors.

My point is that beer and cheese can indeed be epicurean soul mates.

Keeping in mind that "there are no rules, only enthusiastic suggestions," one might find that there are no bad beer and cheese pairings. Most any beer will work well with cheese, and not against it. (An exception might be some unusually 'ingredient-ed' beers.)

Those smirking dismissals of beer and cheese pairing as being without merit —often expressed without a trial tasting— reveal themselves as vino solipsism. To be fair, there is this comment: "White wines hardly ever clash with cheese, mild or stinky, soft or firm."

The issue contains at least one advertisement for a beer: Stella Artois, an insipid lager produced by Budweiser's new owner, giant conglomerate InBev. Now, who's your daddy?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birch and Barley to open in November

Restaurant deadlines are inherently fungible.

Thus, for Birch and Barley & Churchkey -- the newest beer-centric restaurant of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, creators of Virginia's Rustico, Buzz Bakery, Talulla, EatBar, Vermilion and Evening Star Cafe --it's looking now like a November December 2008 opening.

Beer Manager Greg Engert is still planning for 5 handpulled cask lines in addition to the 50 taps and 500 bottles. He said this in a recent email:

While we've made a concerted effort to keep our latest project well beneath the radar as we navigate the myriad design and construction decisions, the word is clearly out that yes, we are in fact embarking on an ambitious new venture in the District. Having gone through this a few times now, we're no longer naive enough to pin a firm date to the opening or to get too far along describing the details except to say that yes, we are beyond excited about this restaurant and bar and that yes, we think you'll feel the same.

Here's an update at Metrocurean.
Earlier YFGF post on the then-unnamed Birch and Barley.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Philosophy of Enough

Here's Rudi Ghequire, brewmaster for famed Belgian brewery Rodenbach:

You have to have a philosophy to make beer. <...> My personal philosophy is to make beers with a lot of taste and flavor but without too much alcohol. It’s not too difficult to make a complex high-alcohol beer, and those beers are popular in Belgium.

To be fair, Ghequire is referring to beers of 7-8% alcohol by volume as being "without too much alcohol."

But his point is well taken. A beer of satiating flavor does not have to be one of high alcohol. If that were not so, we'd all be guzzling Everclear.

Read more of beer writer Chuck Cook's tour of Rodenbach, and his interview with Mr. Ghequire, at Celebrator Beer Magazine on-line edition. It includes a brief but fascinating discussion of Rodenbach's use of wooden foeders (large aging vats).

Chuck also reports --on his blog Belgian beer and travel-- that Rodenbach will soon be again available in the US. A firm named Latis Import Brands has secured the import rights.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Nationals beer

playing ball at Nationals Ballpark
It was a hot August Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The beer vendors were shouting "Get your Miller Lite, water." With no real pause between the two liquid mentions, maybe the beer vendors were revealing the secret of light beer.

But I was thirsty for a good local beer.

After a hike from Section 106 to Section 130, I found the Beltway Bar beer stand pouring draft Dominion Ale and Fordham Ale ... at $7.50 a pour, with no other local draft choices, and with little signage (most of the vendors had no idea where, or even if, there was local beer).

Local beers at Nationals Ballpark!

But it's a start.

And good beer was indeed needed. The Nationals had a team record 10th loss in a row, falling to the Colorado Rockies 7-2.

Go here for an earlier story on the dearth of good beer at the ballpark on opening day.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

UK ISO female beer drinkers

Silly thinking ...

Coors, the U.K. arm of Molson Coors Brewing Co., set up a unit code-named Eve this year to develop beer brands and marketing techniques appealing to women. The unit's mission, the company says, is to create "a world where women love beer as much as they love shoes." <...>

Smart thinking ...
The beer industry made a mistake by neglecting half of the population, [Coors Chief Executive Mark Hunter]says. "We've done something fundamentally wrong here."

What were they thinking? ...
One beer that could appeal to women is Guinness Red, a beer introduced by drinks company Diageo PLC last year that tastes sweeter and doesn't have as strong an aroma as traditional Guinness.

At O'Neill's pub in central London, few women have tried Guinness Red because they don't know it is different than the traditional version, says manager Frank Donlon. "Advertising would help explain that it's like a watered-down Guinness," he says. "A TV ad would be good."

U.K. Brewers Try to Tap Women's Market
Aiming to Boost Sales, Beer Makers Offer
Orange-Slice Garnishes, 'Watered-Down Guinness'
August 15, 2008; Page B6
Wall Street Journal

A TV ad for watered-down beer? Brilliant?

Different thinking here ...

Friday, August 15, 2008

No-Va homebrewer goes Mild (ly) Pro-Am

brewers Ose and FunnellThere may have been homebrewing in the US prior to 1978 —although a homebrewer might have received a not-too-gentle visit from the Feds.

But there was no microbrewing.

That changed after President Jimmy Carter's legalization of homebrewing on 14 October 1978; microbreweries and brewpubs began to appear soon thereafter.

It's a symbiosis sometimes unacknowledged. The Pro-Am Competition of the Great American Beer Festival is an attempt to recognize and rectify that.

In that spirit, I stopped yesterday at Sweetwater Tavern in Centreville, Va.

Homebrewer Wendell Ose was hard at work —but smiling— with Brewmaster Nick Funnell. He was brewing a full-sized batch of his Outlaw Ale, to be entered in this year's Pro-Am competition.

Craft breweries can select award-winning homebrew recipes from American Homebrewers Association (AHA)/Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) sanctioned homebrew competitions <...> The professional brewers then scale up the winning homebrew recipes to be brewed in their brewery and entered in this special competition <...> The brewery will then submit that beer into the GABF [Great American Beer Festival] Pro-Am Competition to be judged against all the other GABF Pro-Am entries. Both the winning breweries and homebrewers will be awarded gold, silver and bronze GABF Pro-Am medals to be presented during the GABF awards ceremony

Third Annual GABF Pro-Am Competition of the Great American Beer Festival

Ose (pronounced OH see) designed his Outlaw Ale as a Mild Ale, as defined by the American Homebrew Association and the Great American Beer Festival (GABF).
[Mild ale is] Copper to dark brown or mahogany color. A few paler examples (medium amber to light brown) exist. <...>

Generally a malty beer, although may have a very wide range of malt- and yeast-based flavors (e.g., malty, sweet, caramel, toffee, toast, nutty, chocolate, coffee, roast, vinous, fruit, licorice, molasses, plum, raisin). Can finish sweet or dry. Versions with darker malts may have a dry, roasted finish. Low to moderate bitterness, enough to provide some balance but not enough to overpower the malt.

<...> readily suited to drinking in quantity, <...> most are low-gravity session beers in the range 3.1-3.8%, although some versions may be made in the stronger (4%+) range for export, festivals, seasonal and/or special occasions.

<...> [Mild] may have evolved as one of the elements of early porters. In modern terms, the name “mild” refers to the relative lack of hop bitterness (i.e., less hoppy than a pale ale, and not so strong). Originally, the “mildness” may have referred to the fact that this beer was young and did not yet have the moderate sourness that aged batches had. Somewhat rare in England, good versions may still be found in the Midlands around Birmingham.

UK beer blogger Martyn Cornell recently 'e-published' a marvelous book on British beer styles: Amber Gold & Black. He has a somewhat different take on mild:
Mild was a style that came into its ascendancy from the 1830s onwards, pushing out the previously dominant English beer style, porter, until itself being replaced after 1960 as the best-selling style by bitter. You’d assume, I think, that dark mild, easily the leading variety, nationally, in the lifetime of any drinker alive today, must be the ancient, original version. <...> [But] dark mild is actually a 20th-century phenomenon.

The critical point is that a mild today is a relatively dark session ale, that is, not a highly alcoholic hop bomb, but a beer suitable for several pints without bringing on inebriation or tannic saturation. Modern US interpretations tend toward a subtle complexity of roast and dark malt. As film director Billy Wilder said, "Make the subtleties obvious."

(Despite the current vogue for high alcohol and extreme beers, Funnell remains wistfully sanguine that mild ales in general might resurge in popularity. Read more on Mild Ale here.)

Ose had originally brewed his Outlaw Ale at home as a clone of Funnell's mild ale at Sweetwater Tavern. Yesterday, his recipe was scaled back up to brewpub dimensions. Ose was chuckling at the circularity.

Not divulging too many recipe details, Ose and Funnell told me that Outlaw Ale had been brewed to an OG (original gravity) of 9°P and 17 BUs (bittering units).

°P refers to degrees Plato; it is a measure of the amount of sugar (usually derived from barley malt) available to the yeast for fermentation. Standard beers are brewed to 12.5 °P; many so-called 'extreme beers' are higher yet.

BUs —bittering units— refer to the bittering aspect of hop tannins. North American Industrial Ales (N.A.I.L.) have much lower BU levels than craft brews, which in turn have lower levels than extreme beers which approach 100 BUs.

Outlaw AleOutlaw Ale should finish at about 3.5% abv (alcohol by volume). [Actually finished at 3.7% abv.]

Its 17 BUs should lend it a pleasing, well-balanced structure. It's a question of balance. A smaller beer, that is a beer with a lower original gravity (°P), will require fewer hops than a bigger beer for a similar 'hoppy' effect.

Expect Outlaw Ale on tap at Sweetwater Tavern in mid-September. [UPDATE 2008.09.23: On tap now.]

The results at the Great American Beer Festival will be announced 11 October in Denver.

I wish them good luck, but they might not need that. Wendell has received several awards as a homebrewer (which is indeed why his beer is being entered) and Nick's beers for Sweetwater Tavern have repeatedly won at the Great American Beer Festival.

[UPDATE 2008.10.11. Wendell and Nick didn't win for their efforts. But another local homebrewer and brewery did. National Beer Judge Lyle Brown and Starr Hill Brewing of Crozet, Virginia won the silver medal for their Bamberg Hellerbock —a pale bock lager brewed with smoked malt. Congratulations.]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Max's German Beer Fest

'Tis the season for beer festivals (upon us soon), and I've only just received this emailed announcement.

In Baltimore, Maryland, Max's TapHouse is planning a companion piece to the pub's very successful February 72 Hours of Belgium Festivals. Max's 1st Annual German Beer Fest will be, however, a German beer festival, held over three days in September: Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the 12th through the 14th.

Munich's Oktoberfest this year, by the way, falls from 20 September through 5 October.

DATE: Sept. 12-14
TIME: Open to close-11am -2am each day
COST: Cash Bar- Sample size , full size , 1 liter steins and 1 Liter Boots.

Max's German fest will feature over 50 Authentic German Beers on draft and over 75 Authentic German Beers in bottles.We will also be serving a German inspired food menu.We will have at least 50 German beers on draft at the start of the day on Friday Sept 12th.

Aecht Schlenkerla Helles
Aecht Schlenkerla Maerzen
Aecht Schlenkerla Urbock
Aecht Schlenkerla Weizen
Allgauer Bueble
Allaguer Teutsch Pils
Ayinger Celebrator
Ayinger Oktoberfest
Bahnhof Berliner Weisse
Bitburger Pils
Einbecker Heller Bock
Einbecker Schwartzbier
Einbecker Ur Bock Dunkel
Erdinger Kristall Weisse
Erdinger Weiss Dark
Franziskaner Hefeweizen
Klosterbrauerie Ettal Dunkel
Klosterbrauerie Ettal Curator
Konings Ludwig Hefeweizen
Kulmbacher EKU PIls
Monschrof Kellerbrau
Reissdorf Kolsch(Gravity Feed)
Schneider Brooklyner Hopfen Weisse
Schneider Weisse
Schnieder Aventinus Weizenbock
Schneider Aventinus Eisbock
Warsteiner Dunkel
Warsteiner Pils
Warsteiner Oktoberfest
Weihenstaphaner Oktoberfest
Weltenburg Barbock Dunkel
Weltenburg Barbock Hell
Weltenburg Hefeweizen Hell
Weltenburg Wintertraum

Plus More to come........

Warsteiner USA is one of the festival's primary sponsors.

[UPDATE 2008.09.14: recap and photos.]

Stay tuned. There are many other September/October festivals to come at many other venues.

[Such as the 6 September DuClaw Real Ale Festival, which I saw mentioned on the Beer in Baltimore blog. Note that this is not the SPBW (
Society for the Preservation of Beer From the Wood) Real Ale Fest, held annually in Baltimore in mid to late October. No details on that one have been posted as of yet.]

Lower prices for malted barley in 2009?

According to the Farmers Guardian, Europe —Western, Eastern, and the UK— are having a bumper grain crop this year. But the US and Canada are expecting a relatively poor harvest of malting-grade barley. And so,

After harvest is completed, [Larry Raap, grain merchandiser for Sun Prairie Grain in Minot, N.D.] estimates that malting prices will remain close to their current levels of between $5.60 and $6 per bushel.

It's somewhat of a mixed bushel.

Now ... on to the hop harvest reports.

I was alerted to this story by Alan McLeod at A Good Beer Blog, who yesterday posted a good listing of several stories on the worldwide 2008/9 barley situation.

Beer is NOT made for judging

“Beer is not made for judging, nor for looking at,” he said. “It’s made for drinking.”


“It’s not because a beer is industrial that makes it bad. I’m not against industrial production. I would rather have a well-made industrial beer than an artisanal beer that tastes bad.”

“A brewery is a building,” he said. [As in, it's how you brew in that building that makes a good beer.]

Bon mots from curmudgeon Jean-Pierre Van Roy of Cantillon, the last remaining lambic brewer and gueuze blender in the city of Brussels, who, as he said, "took over the reins from his father-in-law in 1969 on the day after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon."

More by Evan Rail at his Beer Culture blog: What I Heard at Cantillon

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beer at table

Yours For Good was recently noticed by the mainstream media ... sort of.

The August issue of Baltimore Magazine has an article on page 252 entitled:"Hopped Up On Beer. Restaurant chefs get creative in the kitchen with craft brews."

Wine with dessert? Of course. Beer with dessert? What? ¶ Actually, as craft beers take the country by storm, the seemingly odd matchup works quite well. Gourmets are finding that exquisite boutique chocolates and rich, gooey desserts mate perfectly well with dark, malty porters and pale, crisp ales.

Let's move away from words such as 'boutique' or 'gourmet'; they come with effete connotations. Let's use 'local' or 'fresh' or 'unpasteurized', as the situation may fit, or maybe 'artisinal' or 'craft' although those terms have become somewhat overexposed. To her credit, Christina Stutz —the author— never once uses the phrase 'sudsy'.

As to the "odd matchup" of beer and chocolate, read here or here.

Beer and Food: Baltimore Magazine 2008.08 In the piece, there is a photo montage of an Organic Beer & Vegetarian Dinner at Great Sage Restaurant in Columbia, Maryland.

Ms. Stutz, however, fails to interview anyone from the restaurant or dinner about beer and food. And she identifies me —featured in 3 of the pics in which I am indeed talking about beer and food— as simply (or grandiosely) "Clipper City Brewing company presents...".

But later in the article, Stutz does interview the General Partner of Clipper City Brewing, Hugh Sisson.

She quotes Randy Mosher of the World Brewing Academy ("Beer and cheese totally kick wine's butt.") and talks with Julia Herz of the Brewers Association, Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company, and Steve Frazier and Chef Tip Carter of The Brewer's Art Restaurant/Brewery.

Joe Barbera, owner of Aida Bistro and Wine Bar in Columbia, Md., puts the beer-at-table thing in practical terms:
... he is selling just as much wine as before, but ... "We're trying to stay ahead of the game," says Barbera, "because it seems a lot of people are taking a real interest in and liking to craft beer." received another recent press mention.

Steve Frank (1/2 of the Brews Brothers) had this to say in the August/September issue of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News:
Tom Cizauskas [has been] on the road around Maryland, matching meals to malts.

I like that phrase. I'll be borrowing it ... with due accreditation, of course.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Charity Beer & Cheese

Beer and cheese pairings I presented at a charity tasting for mental health research (NARSAD), Saturday in Huntington, Va.

Oxford Organic Ales Raspberry-Wheat Ale
Seal Bay Triple Cream
cow's milk: Australia

Clipper City MärzHon
cow's milk: Netherlands

Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning Über Pils
young Manchego
sheep's milk: Spain

Heavy Seas Red Sky at Night Saison
Humboldt Fog
goat's milk: California

Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout
Colston Basset Stilton
cow's milk: United Kingdom

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale
cow's milk: Italy

Beers from Clipper City Brewing Company; cheeses provided by Arrowine, Arlington, Va.

Bio-hops? has posted an article on growing organic grapes for wine: How Does Organic Winemaking Work? PART I. The title of the piece implies another section to come on organic vinification. Bullet points:

  • leaf-removal (walking through and pulling off leaves) is the best way to avoid “powdery mildew” over any pesticide you can buy.
  • several cover crops, [such as] Queen Anne’s Lace, [would attract] predator bugs, all of which eat bugs [attracted to vines], thus keeping these bugs off of the vines.
  • Wild pigs come down from the hills each fall into the property, but the farmers at Bonterra [bottled by Fetzer] actually welcome them. The pigs completely ignore the grapes but will go row by row and eat all of the weeds, as well as, leave fertilizer all around the vineyard. [E coli issue here?]
  • A special mixture of cover crops, such as wheat, barley, oats, clover, beans, seeds and other plants are planted between the rows of vines to improve soil qualities, attract pests, and encourage biodiversity on the property. The cover crops help to change the rate at which the vines grow, for example, if a vine is growing too fast and becoming stressed out, the winemakers can add cover crops to slow the plants down. Predators like spider mites and leaf hoppers like fast growing, stressed plants, thus if you can keep plants growing at a slower, sustainable pace, you will also cut down on bugs.

Hmmmm. Why not, then, with hops?

Why couldn't hop farming return to the East Coast, to the Finger Lakes and Cooperstown areas, formerly viable hop-growing regions, or even to here in the mid-Atlantic region?

In the short run, sustainable methods would be less efficient than the current model of mass-produced mono-culture practiced in the Pacific Northwest. But as that industrial model itself becomes inefficient -- infestation, climate disruption, etc.-- might not smaller-scale, sustainable, crop-alternating methods become increasingly economically viable?

The price of hops may have risen enough to make this a possibility.
[UPDATE 2008.08.25: Colorado State University.]

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Prohibition in SW VA?

Shooting Creek Farm Brewery, a proposed brewpub brewery in Floyd County, Virginia (southwestern Virginia) is being opposed by a group of local Christian ministers. Blue Ridge Muse, a blogger there, has posted this:

I've always found it fascinating how fundamentalist ministers yank out the Bible and start waving it around to preach against the dangers of demon rum (or beer or wine or whatever). The only sin that refers to the intake of nourishment or beverages is gluttony. In other words, it's not against the preachings of God to drink a beer. It may be one to chug-a-lug a keg but that's an argument for another day.

As regular readers of this site know, I'm a recovering alcoholic who has been sober 14 years, two months and two days. I serve as Floyd County's representative on the New River Valley Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) advisory board and am a volunteer counselor for an alcoholism treatment program.

However, I cannot -- and will not -- stand by and watch a bunch of self-anointed guardians of morality try and stifle free-enterprise in this county and force their narrow focus view of the world on the rest of the county. Floyd is not a dry county, nor should it be one. Our wineries draw tourists and bring in business and provide employment to a county where the unemployment rate is higher than the rest of Virginia. The Shooting Creek Brewery should be allowed to become an important part of the growing tourism-based economic engine of the area.

Brewpub brouha
August 8, 2008

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Local hearings, unannounced to the principals of the brewpub Ray Jones and Brett Nichols— are scheduled for next week. David Turley at Musings Over a Pint has more on this ongoing story.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Beer and Cookies

a Thirsty Monk at Bruisin' AlesJulie at Bruisin' Ales sent me news of this promotion that she has planned for today at her beer store in Asheville, North Carolina: Beer and cookies.

That's right. She's pairing beers with cookies.

The beers are from Wyerbacher of Easton, Pennsylvania; the cookies from Sugar Momma's -- and you have to love that name -- of Asheville.

In case you can't get to Julie's shop today, here's her program. Try it at home with locally-baked cookies.

  • Blanche (Witbier) with Oatmeal Cranberry White Chocolate Cookie
  • Heresy (Oak-aged Imperial Stout) with Banana Maple Walnut Cookie
  • QUAD (Belgian-style Quadruple) with Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
  • Blasphemy (Oak-aged QUAD) with Almond Date Cookie
This is indeed thinking out of the (cookie) box.

Virginia Cheese Winners

Carole Palmer of the American Cheese SocietyThe American Cheese Society is non-profit trade organization that "encourages the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of farmstead and natural specialty cheeses produced in the Americas and Canada."

Each year the Society hosts a conference on the state-of-American cheeses with a concurrent cheese competition.

The 2008 event was held 25 July in Chicago, Il. And two Virginia dairies achieved great success.

Everona Dairy of Rapidan, Va. reached 2nd place in the Flavored Cheese category for its sheep's milk Herbes De Provence. There was no 1st place awarded, so I'll recognize this cheese as the nation's best in this category.

Meadow Creek Dairy of Galax, Va. received first place in the Cow's Milk --aged 60 days or more-- category for its Grayson washed rind cheese. And, as well, the cheese achieved runner-up status for Best of Show (second only to Snow White Goat Cheddar of Carr Valley in Wisconsin).

  • Full winner list here.
  • YFGF posts on Grayson here and here.
  • DC Foodies post on Grayson here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's beer ... for breakfast

There's another Beer Breakfast at The Royal Mile Pub.

beer breakfast beginsOn Sunday, 24 August at 10am, this Wheaton, Md. pub continues a tradition first begun in the early aughts at the now-closed Sean Bolan's Pub of Baltimore, Md. It's a two-hour meal, served in the morning, of hearty breakfast fare prepared with beer and served with appropriate beer.

Expected to be in attendance is Steve Frank, a beer writer (1/2 of the Brews Brothers) who, after enjoying a beer breakfast at the the Portland, Or. Horse Brass Pub several years ago, was inspired to portage the concept east.

Orange Cranberry Scones, Potato Pancakes with Creme Fraiche,
Beignets, Cheese Rolls
▪ Paired with Welcome Beer: Clipper City Hang Ten Weizen Dopplebock

Cherry Whole Grain Pancakes with Quelque Chose Syrup

Paired with Berliner Weiss with Raspberry Syrup

Housemade Smoked German Style Sausage with Cumberland Sauce
Paired with Paulaner Salvator

Pork Schnitzel Topped With Sunny Quail Egg, Housemade Beer Mustard, Pomme Frites
Paired with Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier or Tröegenator Double Bock
-- or --
Gravlax Chive Scrambled Eggs
Paired with Small Craft Warning Über Pils or Warsteiner Pils

Individual Chocolate Cake
Paired with Schneider Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock

$35. Call the The Royal Mile Pub at 301.946.4511 for reservations.

[UPDATE 2008.08.24: recap and photos.]

And not to overlook this, but on 7 August, in the evening, Chef Ian Morrison is hosting a Single Malt Whisky Dinner.

Dirty rotten lines #1

Several years ago, I was a representative for a craft and import beer wholesaler in Maryland. One of my accounts was a martini bar, which, in addition to that cocktail, also served up a few Belgian drafts. From me, they obtained a strong golden Belgian ale.

There came a short period in which the beer was temporarily unavailable. It was on a ship coming to America, but was still somewhere on the Atlantic. So I arranged to substitute with a similar Belgian beer.
cloudy beer
When I went to swap the keg couplers in the refrigerated outside draft box, I noticed dirty draft lines. In fact, so much so, that the lines contained large chunks of yeast and protein. And it wasn't just my unfiltered-Belgian-beer line. The lines for Stella Artois and Miller Lite, if not chunky, were also filthy.

I told the owner that he needed to clean his draft beer lines, and pronto. His initial response was a blank stare. "Clean the lines? What do you mean?"

It seems the beer lines had never been cleaned in the 6 months that his martini bar had been open. He had had no idea.

Had he failed to change the frying grease in the kitchen? No! Had he failed to change his car's engine oil? No!

I arranged for his lines to be cleaned. In the weeks following, his draft beer sales went up.

Clean the beer pipes: if not every week, or every 2 weeks, then at least regularly. Treat your beer with care, and it will reward you with consummate enjoyment (and profit).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

James 'Beer-d' Award recipient

This following was said as part of a keynote speech at a Craft Brewers Conference in the mid 1990s:

Beer brings together the Apollonian and the Dionysian.

I was there; I was struck that anyone could make such a classical allusion at a beer conference.

Who was the speaker?

Fritz Maytag —owner of the Anchor Brewing Company, and 2008 recipient of a James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award.

In 1965 Fritz Maytag acquired the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco and became a pioneer of American microbrewing. Since then, he has not only preserved the tradition of Anchor Steam Beer, but he has also made Anchor a national brand without ever compromising his high standards. In the 1980s and 1990s, due in part to Maytag’s example, more than one thousand small breweries sprouted up all over the country. <...>

In 1993 Maytag launched the Anchor Distilling Company whose Old Potrero Rye Whiskey and Junipero Gin quickly became models for a burgeoning artisanal distilling movement in America and around the world.

<...> since the 1960s Maytag has steered his family’s Maytag Dairy Farms in Newton, Iowa. Maytag Blue cheese, produced since 1941, was a creation of Fritz’s father, and the company has been a leader in the American artisanal cheese renaissance. <...>

Maytag is also the owner of York Creek Vineyards in the Spring Mountain District above St. Helena, where he grows more than a dozen grape varieties, and last year celebrated his 39th harvest.<...>

And, he is a classical scholar.

Congratulations to you, Mr. Maytag.

Established in 1990, the James Beard Foundation Awards are a program of the non-profit James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s culinary heritage and diversity...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Quantum Real Ale Mechanics

The cask awaitsI thought I saw a clever thing ... said by me ... as a comment on Alexander D. Mitchell IV's blog. So I'll quote myself here. It's in regard to cask ale.

Quantum Real Ale Mechanics states that the act of tapping a cask will disturb a cask. Gravity must be allowed the time to pull all sediment (which includes cold break, finings, and yeast) to beneath the keystone.

Thus better practice for the optimum quality and flavor in cellaring and serving serving a truly cask-conditioned ale, would be
  • Receive the cask; wait 24+ hours.
  • Vent the cask; wait 24+ hours.
  • Tap the cask; wait 24+ hours.
  • Serve the pint; don't wait.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will reveal that I have sometimes tapped a cask and immediately served it. Many folk have no idea what real ale entails. By observing the actual hammering in of the faucet, they might get a better idea. The tapping makes for good beer theater.

But as ADM IV might say, "your mileage may differ."

Thus the period of time for each step, especially prior to the tapping, might be increased, but rarely should be decreased.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Beer and Food

I recently updated my Beer And Food web page.

I include links to cooking-with-beer recipes, beer dinner menus, articles on beer-and-cheese, blog posts on beer-with-chocolate, beer cookbooks, and other topical sites.

It's bit of a slap-dash affair at present: just basic html coding. At some point, I should spend the cash on real web design.