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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beer Photo Friday

Friday, April 22 was our second weekly Beer Photo Friday (twitter hashtag #BeerPhotoFriday)! People tweeted 23 photos of their beer, including 3 Lagunitas beers, 2 Dogfish Head beers, 1 homebrew, and a Schlitz.

Here is our tribute to all the beer photos we received last Friday.

We couldn't possible pick a favorite as we found enjoyment in each photo. When we look at @AllOverBeer's photo (, we see a camel shape in the foam. Also, you gotta love a beer with some kick. @vwrules57's beer ( has a serano chili in it. Our collage highlights the beer from @girlfromarizona (because it evoked the reaction "I-want-to-go-to-there!"

Every Friday, we'll be asking people to share their beer experiences on #BeerPhotoFriday on Twitter!

Special thanks to these Twitter folks for their pictures!
@,@, @,@, @, @, @, @, @, @, @,@, @, @, @, @, @, @, @, @

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Craft Brewers Conference: Living Legends, Food Pairing, and Lots of Craft Beer

The 2011 Craft Brewers Conference in San Francisco kicked off with a POP! (literally) as we toasted to craft beer with Fritz Maytag of Anchor Brewing and Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. This is the first beer industry conference that I've attended so it's the first time that I've checked in at a conference registration and been handed a four-pack of craft beer with by packet. Still, there was work to be done and new ideas to explore in the midst of this explosive time in craft beer.

Pairing Food and Beer
There was a lively discussion about beer and food at the "Working with Chefs" panel, which featured Adam Dulye of The Monk's Kettle, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co.,  and Jared Rouben of Goose Island Brewpubs.

The past two years have seen the envelope pushed beyond the conventional pairing of beer and food. Porters and stouts are no longer just for desserts. Progressive brewpubs are trying break the expected standard of designing the meal from light to heavier. Instead, the panel advised brewers to start with a cleaner slate of possibilities. Afterall, the biggest wins in food pairing come from trying new things that you have never imagined. For example, multiple beers with one course causes different actions on the palate so that diner is constantly engaged throughout the course. As a result, portion control is a topic that needs to be discussed when planning the meal since you want to ensure that the diner can finish the course by washing down the flavors on the palate with a beer.

The panel tried to dispel the myth that the chef creates the food and then finds a suitable beer. Instead, the process should be collaborative.

There seems to be a common communication divide between the brewer and the chef as I often heard brewers ask, "What kind of language should I use when discussing this issue with the chef?" To that, the panel offered business-saavy advice: set a price for the dinner and say that you still want to make money.

Read more about the Keynote talk, General Session, and Sustainability talks that I attended at the CBC on my guest blog post on Beer 47:

*Thanks to Gemma Amor for the use of the beer mugs photo:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beer's Day Off: Wine Tasting at Sutton Cellars in San Francisco's Dogpatch

Last Sunday, I took a day off from beer to enjoy some wine with some friends at Sutton Cellars' Jug Sundays. It was not a bad deal: a $5 tasting fee (refundable with any wine purchase) to try at least 7 different wines.  My favorites were the Vermouth, the Syrah, and the Pinot Noir jug wine.

The Brown Label Vermouth was surprisingly pleasant for sipping and not anything like the Gallo Vermouth I've used in the past to cook or make a DIY martini.  I'd be curious what it would be like for cooking, especially the Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic recipe from James Beard.

The 2005 Syrah Table Wine from Sonoma County was unfiltered and cloudy, which I have to admit looks unappealing at first glance.  However, the mild fruit aroma and moderate body were easy on the palate and makes me think that this would pair easily with most American fare so it's be good to bring to a dinner party.

Finally the Pinot Noir "Jug Wine" was a pleasant pinot that was not too tannic, yet just the right amount of dryness.  My friends bought a litter of Pinot, which Carl Sutton filled himself straight from the barrel into a reusable bottle with a stopper (very eco-chic!).

This Sunday also had a special treat in that the food truck TomKat made an appearance with a sneak-peak menu which included green papaya salad, banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) with pate, and a rice noodle salad.  The ingredient were fresh - as is typical with most Asian street food - and there were nice details such as deep fried shallots on the green papaya salad, which was crunchy and refreshing.

However, it's hard for me to feel compelled to pay $6 for banh mi when a great banh mi is only $3.50 and is already a perfect sandwich at a fantastic price.  I think the banh mi would have to get re-invented to warrant such a price.  I'm imagining that instead of bread, there is something surprising, yet bun-shaped, like a fried plantain or grilled puffed rice.  The grilled marinated meat filler could be accompanied by a peanut pate with galanga for some spice...but I'm just thinking out loud.

Overall, this was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon in a sunny area of San Francisco!

Monday, April 4, 2011

My Day with Pliny the Younger 2011

Friday, February 4, 2011 was the day I transformed into a true a beer fanatic. It was the first day that Russian River Brewing Company released its 2011 Pliny the Younger at its brewpub. I wanted to taste a beer that ratebeer ranked as one of the best beers in the U.S.

8:30am - Temptation
I figured that if I left San Francisco around 9am, I would have plenty of time to get into RRBC for an early lunch. I was confident that this little trip will only take me a few hours - including driving.  

9:45am - Damnation
David and I arrived in Santa Rosa and got in line.  My cursory head-count estimated that there were about 110 people in front of us.  Slowly, slowly, the line moved ahead as the doorman for the brewpub let people in only when people left.  It was highly conceivable that people planed to camp out at the bar all day. Damn!
11am - Salvation
We were still towards the end of the line, but ready for the early lunch that I had planned. We were conveniently in front of the Ting Hau Restaurant so we picked up some Chinese food plates while we stood in line.  The woman in the restaurant was incredibly sweet and brought us extra napkins when she realized that we were eating while standing right in front of her restaurant.  

11:45am - Deification
I moved the car to a different parking zone. At this point, I’m not sure if or when we are getting in or whether there will be enough beer in RRBC’s daily allocation of Pliny the Younger.  I watched people drop out of the line after they realized that there was at least another hour of waiting ahead.  Was I deifying this beer?

12:45am - Redemption
We were wrist-banded and allowed in! It was a bit of a madhouse inside, but we found two seats at the bar. 

Ok, this is a solid triple IPA.  It’s smooth from the first sip with sweet/spicy hops that invigorate the tongue. Unfortunately, there were a couple plates of chicken wings and calzone around me so I was not able to catch the aroma.

I quickly made two friends, Chris and Mike, at the bar.  Mike was a local to Santa Rosa and shared his chaotic Younger stories from last year.  This year, RRBC managed the crowd so there weren’t people with growlers pushing and climbing over each other at the bar. As Mike went through his thoughts of each of the beers on the chalkboard, he shared the April Fool’s Day joke that the brewpub pulled a few years ago.  Procrastination beer was on the menu for a long time with the note “Coming Soon!” as a joke.  One year, on April 1, RRBC posted on their website that Procrastination was on tap in the brewpub.  It turns out that some people drove over 8 hours to Santa Rosa to try this beer.  You have to admit that RRBC is very good with hyping their beers.

Chris flew in for the weekend from Chicago just to try Pliny the Younger. He exclaimed that Younger was fantastic....although he was already on his fourth 11% ABV beer when he said it. You gotta love beer geeks.  Everyone I met was in a great mood. I even received a declaration of love from my new friends when I left.

3pm - Sanctification
I only had time and the drinking capacity for one beer since I had to drive home, so we left at 3pm. Overall, the Pliny the Younger is delicious. I even had the opportunity to try it again at Monk’s Kettle late one night a few weeks later.  I’m glad that I got to try it at the RRBC, but I don’t think that I'll spend another day waiting in line for it.  The hype didn’t exactly live up to the expectation.  In order for this beer to live up to it’s expectation, my drinking experience would have to have been like this scene from Beerfest:

My current beer quest is to find other IPA’s that are just as tasty and easier to access.  So far, Ballast Point Sculpin IPA and Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA fit the bill: smooth from the first sip and very hoppy.

Thanks to David Jensen of for the picture of the line outside of RRBC.