Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 29, 2007
My co-conspirators were Tim Eads, Kevin Lowber and Bob Reed.
4 Americans visit the Tour - Beer and Cycling
Four Americans stayed this week at the Palace Hotel in Poperinge - Bob and Kevin from Kentucky, Tim and Roger from Indiana. Mainly here to sample local brews, they did not want to miss the Tour de France; they watched it from the terrace of a local pub in Lo, a more than unique experience for the four Americans.
Kentucky is mainly known for breeding horses, so horse racing is extremely popular. Indiana is more industrialized with steel industry around Lake Michigan. Needless to say that they were charmed by the peace and quiet of the Poperinge area, a cyclist's paradise. Their home states are more car orientated.
On Monday they cycled to Lo; they had never seen the Tour or any other main cycling event. American TV pays more attention to extreme sports, cycling is not one of them despite the presence of Lance Armstrong. They were impressed by the publicity caravan, carnival as they called it; a Michelin flag or Champion cap made a nice souvenir. They watched out for the American cyclists; they recognized the US Postal shirts but not who rode with a blue shirt. They strongly believe in another victory of Lance Armstrong but did not hear yet about the cooperation with the controversial Italian doctor Ferrari.
They do not speak in public about drugs. "Armstrong seems to be an honest guy." They would be very disappointed when it would appear that their hero in the Tour takes illegal products.
They do not know many names of Belgian cyclists, exception made for Tom Steels and Eddy Merckx, of course. After the Tour passed through Lo, Westvleteren was the next stop for a delicious Trappist.
Roger, Tim, Kevin and Bob already visited Poperinge in 1999 during the hop fest. Bob remembers the refreshing taste of Hommelbier and still speaks highly about the Hop Queen.
Again local real ales are the reason for staying at the Palace. Landlord Guy serves them another brew each evening in a matching glass; no less than 130 different beers are available at the Palace.
Before leaving Poperinge, they cycled up the Cassel-mountain and visited a local inn, het Kasteelhof, where another local ale was tasted.
As a salesman, Kevin introduced the Hommelbier in quite a number of American pubs and also Roger serves it in his Rich O's Public House. He will soon serve his own homebrew.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
In an article about the rise of microdistilling that begins on the newspaper’s front page, legendary local vintner and distiller Ted Huber gets a nod and a quote:
Farmyard Stills Quench a Thirst for Local Spirits, by Susan Saulny.
“There was no way for me to have an artisan distillery the way Indiana law was written after Prohibition,” said Ted Huber, who runs the Starlight Distillery on his farm in southern Indiana and who helped draft the law that was passed six years ago. “I can’t make whiskey, but can make anything that would come from raw ingredients for wine. I’m experimenting with grape vodka now.”
Mr. Huber also runs a winery, and it attracts a half-million tourists a year. But he finds that his copper pot still, imported from Germany, “is really a crowd pleaser, even when it’s not running.”
Eric Asimov, the NYT’s drinks writer, then considers several microdistilled products: THE POUR; Just Don’t Call It Scotch. Or Irish. Or Tequila.
Speaking of rugged stuff, grappa, distilled from the residue of the winemaking process, generally has all the appeal of a flame-throwing punch to the stomach. Most are harsh and unpleasant, though there are significant exceptions. A grappa made by the Starlight Distillery in Borden, Ind., is one of them. It is smooth with a fruity, floral aroma, and would be highly enjoyable after a heavy meal.
Since our visit to the winery and distillery a couple of weeks ago, I've also been praising the Grappa. I remembered the beverage from Italian excursions chiefly as lighter fluid or fuel additive, but like Asimov, I found Starlight’s version to be delicate and aromatic.
What are we going to have to do to the Indiana state law (burning it springs immediately to mind) to allow Ted to distill Hoptimus into schnapps?
Speaking of legalese, I learned earlier today that our Brewers of Indiana Guild was visiting Indiana's legislature in an effort to gain support for legislation that would allow the state's brewers to promote their breweries on state highway signage. It's something that wineries have been doing for two decades, but is currently denied to breweries under the wisdom ... well, under no discernable wisdom whatsoever.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
If ever there were such a thing as a civic institution, Tommy Lancaster’s qualifies for landmark status. It has been nestled on Market Street within spitting distance of the rail crossing since the early years of the Eisenhower administration, and the founding Lancaster family still ran the establishment until 2004 or thereabouts.
While it is true that there have been periodic updates at Tommy’s, jalapeno poppers, designer salads and draft Blue Moon among them, America’s imperial Betty Crocker era cuisine (fried chicken and fixings on the buffet table) remains the restaurant’s chief selling point, and with each passing year, the restaurant increasingly resembles a museum as much as a place of business – and as I’ve come to realize, that’s a considerable compliment to them.
What they do, they continue to do quite well. As the Curmudgeon ages, his thoughts begin to turn to meat loaf and mashed potatoes; not necessarily how they taste, but what they mean.
Broadly speaking, I inhabit a world of symbolic objects, and it didn’t dawn on me until recently that the upholstered booths, venerable paneling, uniformed servers and other manifestations of my childhood in the 1960’s need not exclusively represent discordant notions in need of fleeing. Perhaps they might also symbolize the good intentions of the post-war era. Honest food and drink at a fair price, and offered in a clean, well-lighted place, need not be the realm of contemporary Miller High Life television ads. We all own a piece of it.
It remains that Tommy’s is not a frequent haunt, although we enjoy taking my mother to eat there every Thanksgiving. Beer’s the thing, and there is little in the way of good beer there, but that’s where Maury comes into the picture. On behalf of the new owners, he asked me to come, make a sales pitch on behalf of NABC and offer a bit of education about craft beer. It seems that they’re interested in a local draft product.
And so it occurred. I brought a sampling of NABC drafts in growlers, and a date was made for me to return next Tuesday to offer samples of Community Dark to the regulars who come in for $1.50 draft night. I met a fellow who collects Hot Wheels model cars, chatted with the bartender who started work the year I was born, and was pleased to note management’s interest in local products. We may have a beer on tap at Tommy's in a few weeks.
It was an informative and educational evening.
Monday, November 26, 2007
But seriously, here's the lineup for this year's Keg Liquors Holiday Beer Tasting, which will be held on Thursday, November 29 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Keg Liquors is located at 617 E. Lewis & Clark Parkway in sunny Clarksville, Indiana.
I'll note that many of the beers Todd has assembled (marked *) will be featured at NABC's forthcoming Saturnalia draft festival, which kicks off on Friday, December 7, and runs pretty much the whole month of December.
Our second year of this event, this will also be our final tasting of the year. Featuring many holiday and winter beers to get your holiday shopping started early, representatives from two of our craft beer distributors will be on hand, as well as a guest appearance from Schlafly Brewing.
More beers should be added to the list, while we are waiting for a final list of our special orders of holiday beers, but here is the partial list of what we know we will be tasting based on our existing inventory:
*Delirium Noel (2007 and 2005 Vintages)
Corsendonk Christmas Ale (2006 Vintage)
*Gouden Carolus Noel (2006 Vintage)
Affligem Noel (2006 Vintage)
Avery Old Jubilation
*Harpoon Winter Warmer
*Pyramid Snow Cap
*Anchor 2007 Merry Christmas, Happy New Year Special Ale (2005 Vintage as well)
*Rogue Santa's Private Reserve
*Three Floyds Alpha Klaus
*N'ice Chouffe (2005 Vintage)
*Great Divide Hibernation Ale
*Boulder Never Summer Ale
*Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Left Hand Snow Bound
Harvey's Christmas Ale (2001 Vintage)
Gales Christmas Ale (2002 Vintage)
St. Feullien Noel (2006 Vintage)
As an added bonus, Scott from Schlafly Brewing will be on hand to sample several of their latest brews. Here is their lineup:
Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout - Around the time of the Louisiana purchase, beer was shipped in barrels. if one had been lucky enough to receive a used Bourbon barrel of Imperial Stout, this is what his/her happy taste buds would have encountered: roasty, rich, malty imperial stout with a strong dose of caramel, oak, and Bourbon character.
Schlafly Barleywine - A heavy, sweet, very strong ale with a deep, copper color and lots of hops to balance the very large amount of malt. This very large beer has also been known to bite back.
*Schlafly Christmas Ale - A full-bodied amber ale to spice up the holidays. 'Tis the season to enjoy this rich and flavorful ale made with orange peel, cloves and spicy hops.
This is a free tasting and open to the public (21 and older of course). All beers in the tasting will be $1 off the day of the tasting.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Note that everything following is tentative. Our local tour operator is Tony Minden, owner of OregonWest Excursions. Tony submitted a plan to me, and I have edited his work and made a few changes, which he’ll be examining for accuracy. The edited version, minus exact timings, is here. I believe the information below to be substantially correct at this time. Assuming Tony agrees, we’ll begin the process of determining the price.
Note also that the group’s airfare is still being researched by Mary Pat Bliss of Bliss Travel in New Albany, but that you retain the option of arranging your own flights subject to land transportation constraints and my required foreknowledge. At this time, we believe the roundtrip fare to be in the range of $550, but of course this might change.
Some form of breakfast is included at each stop.
Tuesday, May 6th
We will depart Louisville for Portland, and depending on the final flight plan, the itinerary may change. Airport transfer; arrive in Portland. Read: New York Times on beer in Portland. We’ll be staying at the Embassy Suites (Downtown). There’ll be a tour, tasting and meal at BridgePort Brewing, Oregon’s oldest craft brewery (founded 1984).
Wednesday, May 7th
Private charter aboard the Portland Ducks Tour’s Hydra Terra amphibious vehicle for a half bus/half boat city tour with guide that travels city streets and the Willamette River alike. We’ll tour Portland’s waterfront and ship yard, and then end up at Widmer Brothers Brewing for a taste, followed by a free afternoon in downtown Portland to rest, relax and enjoy the city. Later, there’ll be a McMenamins Cosmic Bus Tour (visits to a selection of McMenamins' historic properties (i.e., McMenamins Edgefield, the Kennedy School, and the Crystal Ballroom) and appetizers, handcrafted ales, wines and spirits. We’re leaving the evening open pending a chance to socialize with Phil “Biscuit” Timperman. Phil currently works for Rogue Ales in Portland, and formerly was employed by Hair of the Dog and the Horse Brass Pub.
Thursday, May 8th
Morning departure for a drive through the gorgeous scenery of the Crown Point State Scenic Corridor, followed by a stop at Multnomah Falls, the second highest water fall in the United States. Lunch and beers will be at Walking Man Brewing in Stevenson. After lunch we’ll travel the "Hood River Fruit Loop," coming eventually to the landmark Timberline Lodge (where Jack Nicholson’s “The Shining” was filmed). During this time we will try to meet with Charles Porter, formerly the brewery at Bloomington Brewing Co. and Upland in Bloomington, Indiana. Charles now lives in Hood River and works for Full Sail Brewing. There might be a vineyard tour as well. Afterwards, an open final evening in Portland.
Friday, May 9th
Depart Portland for Seattle. Stop in Tacoma at Harmon’s Brewery & Restaurant for a tour, tasting and lunch, then free time in Tacoma. Near Harmon’s: The Museum of Glass, including work by the world famous Dale Chihuly; artists at work in the Hot Shop; bridge of glass; and the restored Union Station. In Seattle, we’re staying at the Silver Cloud Hotel. A monorail/tram to and from downtown is being built, and it may be operational by the time of our visit. The hotel also offers local shuttles. We are hoping to arrange an evening visit, tasting and dinner at Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub.
Saturday, May 10th
A brief city tour of the highlights will be followed by morning free time. Circa 1:00 p.m., we meet at the Pike Pub & Brewery for lunch and a beer pairing. Next is a tour of Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners and a pre-game tour and tasting at the Pyramid Alehouse, Brewery & Restaurants. At 7:00 p.m., Mariners vs. White Sox, sushi (Ichi-Roll) and IPA, then back to the hotel after the game. Note that the Safeco Field tour and game timings are contingent on the 2008 schedule, which thus far is tentative.
Sunday, May 11th
Depart for Astoria, Oregon, on the northernmost tip of the Oregon coast. The hotel is Comfort Suites Columbia River. Lunch is on your own in Astoria, which boasts a great downtown to wander, with unique shops, restaurants and pubs, among them the Wet Dog Cafe & Astoria Brewing Company (formerly Pacific Rim Brewing) and Fort George Brewery + Public House. We’ll visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum in the afternoon, then attend Seafood School for demonstrations, seafood, and a beer-themed presentation from Chef Eric Jenkins.
Monday, May 12th
Depart Astoria for Newport. This is about a 3-hour drive, and quite spectacular. We’ll allow an hour and a half for stops along the way, including Cannon Beach or Seaside. Arrive in Newport circa 1:00 p.m. The small, succulent Yaquina Bay oyster made Newport famous, and the town is a popular destination for seafood lovers, but we know it better as the home of Rogue Ales. Lunch at your own pace along the Historic Bayfront, location of Rogue Ales Public House and Local Ocean Seafoods. Rooms at the Elizabeth Street Inn. Monday evening is free to roam. There is the possibility of a program and session at the Rogue Ales Public House.
Tuesday, May 13th
We’re hoping to book a morning excursion with Marine Discovery Tours. Lunch is at Brewer’s on the Bay, Rogue’s restaurant inside its microbrewery complex, which is located on the south side of the bay (you can see the Public House across the way), followed by a Rogue brewery tour. Next, a visit to the nearby Oregon Coast Aquarium, then regrouping at the hotel. Dinner at the Hallmark Inn in the group’s own private dining room overlooking the ocean. Finally, weather permitting, the Elizabeth Street Inn will put on a bonfire on the beach, including smores and plenty of Rogue ales.
Wednesday, May 14th
Pending confirmation of the flight time, this day remains unplanned. It is 2.5 hours travel time to Portland and 1.5 hours check in time at the airport. This might require an early wake-up …
Saturday, November 24, 2007
For the uninitiated, B. United imports various classic beers from Europe and Japan. During the cooler months, firkins of cask-conditioned ale from the UK are brought in on a very limited basis and allocated on a pre-order basis to selected accounts.
Today, along with a handful of hard and soft spiles and clips for the handle on the beer engine, I received the badges for two real ales I’ve never tried and barely was aware existed.
They are both from Thornbridge Hall Brewery in Derbyshire, UK.
Building on the foundations of brewing in the UK we look to styles, and respond to influences, from around the world to help us achieve our vision. We have a highly skilled brewing team with a desire to learn about great beers and a passion to develop and produce them.
Fair enough. The two real ales that we’re expecting are Jaipur, an India Pale Ale, and Saint Petersburg, a Russian Imperial Stout. They’re pleasingly beefy by ordinary English standards, at 5.9% abv and 7.7% abv, respectively. Advance reviews are favorable, and when they arrive, the hand pull will come alive.
Most intriguing to me is the brewery’s location in Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire. As it turns out, Thornbridge is just up the road from Matlock and the nearby spa, Matlock Baths, where my first wife and I stayed with friends in early 2001. Ashford on the Water is squarely in the middle of the Peak District, a beautiful natural area, with the cities of Sheffield (east) and Manchester (west) roughly equidistant on either side. The county capital of Derby, to the south, has an abundance of real ale.
Sounds like another road trip in the making … beercyclists, take note.
Friday, November 23, 2007
As before, we'll be imbibing in the Prost banquet and special events wing of Rich O's Public House/NABC. Coverage from stellar events the last two years can be viewed here:
2006: Pants Down Port Drinkers on December 28: A recap.
2005: Port wine is a holiday tradition.
This year's tasting is open to all comers, with no cover or minimum, with the only firm requirement being that participants bring a bottle of Port and a snack (cheese, salami, olives or other munchables) to the gathering.
It is possible that a fine cigar for the hosting Publican might buy your way inside.
Traditional co-conspirator Tim Eads and I would like an informal and non-binding RSVP by December 20, including a description of the Port you'll be bringing, if in fact you know and aren't a last-minute shopper like me. I'll post a list of the Ports on or around the 20th.
Briefly googling in preparation, we find:
Into Wine: Enjoying Port
The Vintage Port Site (operated by the Symington Family Port Companies)
Prior to my only visit to Portugal in 2000, the Danish gonzo journalist Kim Wiesener, a longtime friend, recommended Richard Mayson's "Port and the Douro" as the finest overview of all things Port. Indeed, it is excellent, and if you're interested in Port, it's a must-have.
There's a new edition available, and I'm sure that Randy Smith at Destinations Booksellers would be able to track it down for those interested.
Here's a capsule description:
Mayson recounts the history of this great fortified wine up to the present day, including an assessment of major vintages back to 1896. He examines the physical condition of the region, grape varieties and vineyards with an appraisal of each of the main quintas, providing a directory of individual producers and shippers.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Given the evening’s roundball motif and Jennie’s “real ale” nationality, it’s fully appropriate that our pit stop (yet another potential pun, except that I'm not a racing fan) earlier in the afternoon at Broad Ripple Brewing Company was graced by the surprising and enjoyable presence of cask-conditioned Circle V Pacer Pale. Indiana Beer’s Bob Ostrander explains:
Broad Ripple Brewpub has Circle V's Pacer Pale on the handpull. It's Kevin Matalucci's tribute to Mark Vojnovich who brewed this at his Circle V a few years back (from '96 to '01 to be exact). It has Centennial hops and 5.5% ABV. "V" is the assistant now at BRBP. The clarity invites you to think "crisp" just by looking at it.
More than six years after brewing ceased, and eight years since the restaurant closed, Circle V’s building off 82nd Street remains unoccupied. It’s painful to see such reminders.
While at Broad Ripple, Jennie and I quaffed two pints with Scotch eggs. Much later, after the game, we three drove north to Castleton and our old friend Joe Brower’s place for overnight quarters, and when I told him that Mark’s excellent Pale Ale had been recreated at Broad Ripple, a warm glow was elicited. Joe began telling stories about beers consumed far and wide, and I knew where he was headed:
“But to this very day, one of the best beers I ever had was …”
(All together now): “Circle V Batch 100!”
Back in the day, I recall thinking that Circle V’s Batch 100 was very similar to Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, and while a certain element of the memory probably has to do with the fact that few such ales were making it to us at the time, it was damned fine indeed, and like Joe, I have a soft spot in my heart for it.
The trouble is that Mark always jokingly claimed to have been a bit, shall we say, “under the weather” on that far off brewing day, and consequently is unable to remember the recipe. If it isn’t true, perhaps there’ll be a revival at Broad Ripple in the future.
Pacer Pale was followed by another unexpected treat. Back to Bob:
But the main reason a couple of dozen folks stopped in at the brewpub last Wednesday was to get the first taste of Bill Ballinger's Serenity Now IPA. Bill and Kevin brewed Serenity Now to Bill's recipe for the Indiana State Fair 2008 Best of Show. It's more brown than expected. With 20 pounds of Amarillo, Cascade, and Columbus hops in the 7-bbl batch, it could be compared to Ruination with more malt and much more body.
That’s a good description of a wonderful Imperial IPA, and Serenity Now proved to be an enjoyable dessert after the eggs.
As a closing note, while at BadaBoomz Ale House & Grill in downtown Indy for a couple of pre-game refreshments, I noticed that Mike DeWeese had NABC’s Hoptimus on tap – hand-delivered by the Publican in August.
Reasoning that the local aficionados should get first orders, I passed in favor of Mad Anthony IPA.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007 – 6:30pm
New Albanian Brewing's Prost Room
Cheeses provided by LOTSA PASTA; presented by Will Eaves.
Merchant Du Vin beers provided by World Class Beverages & the New Albanian Brewing Company; presented by Tisha Dean & Roger Baylor.
Tasting Notes (from Merchant du Vin)
Ayinger Braü Weisse (Germany)
Delicious lemon-scented wheat beer with yeast. This is an aristocratic beer with a champagne sparkle and a beautifully sustained head. Pale in color, tart in palate—a brut beer. Experience as an aperitif or with your meal.
Cheese Pairing: Capriole Soft Goat Cheese
Zatec Bright Lager (Czech Republic)
Medium-bodied; natural, soft conditioning; hedonistic fresh herbal aroma; a flavor that is the best of fresh-baked bread, fields of grain, and spice, with a solid malt middle. Clean, sparkling, and quintessentially thirst-quenching.
Cheese Pairing: Kenny’s Horseradish Cheddar
Orval Trappist Ale (Belgium)
Sunset-orange color; a fruity and slightly acidic bouquet, firm body, profound hop bitterness, and long, dry finish.
Cheese Pairing: Orca & Capriole’s Sofia
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale (England)
Honey-amber-colored, creamy head of small bubbles, floral aroma and delicious malt flavor with great finesse.
Cheese Pairing: Kenny’s Mild Cheddar
Green’s Gluten-free Quest Tripel Ale (Belgium)
Fairly light body for beer of this strength; spice and herb nose with flavors of candied fruit. Aromatic, long finish. Vegan.
Cheese Pairing: Capriole’s Tomme
Traquair House Ale (Scotland)
Deep reddish-golden in color; full, velvet-like body; medium dry and powerful, with an earthy hint of peat character.
Cheese Pairing: Kenny’s Kentucky Bleu
Lindemans Cassis (Belgium)
Deep reddish-purple color with exceptional aroma, flavor, and complexity. Fuller bodied and soft, while still being refreshing and crisp.
Cheese Pairing: Capriole’s Chocolate Bourbon Torte
Special thanks to the following that made this event possible: Reva Hagedorn, Prost Special Events Coordinator ... and Chefs Andrew McCabe and Josh Lehman for consultation & preparation.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
To be honest, I resisted committing to this promotion, primarily because it’s been a very busy year without added arrogance, and also owing to what I perceive as the first signs of “event fatigue” among local beer aficionados … but what the hell. We're fairly arrogant already; might as well pile on.
The idea is that from November 24 through November 30, participating establishments will vie to sell the most Arrogant Bastard Ale, “Oaked” Arrogant Bastard Ale, and Double Bastard Ale, as calculated by the ounce. The winner will receive, “A Plaque proclaiming your supreme Arrogance, bragging rights to the rest of the nation, and a place in history amongst the other Most Arrogant Bars in America!”
I wouldn’t be a curmudgeon if I didn’t react to all this with, “real bars don’t count ounces,” but since it’s all in good fun … why not?
Sales will be calculated according to the honor system, and we’ll be at a competitive disadvantage because I’ve chosen to cellar our keg of Double Bastard for future Gravity Heads.
However, during the specified period, both Arrogant Bastard and Oaked Arrogant Bastard will be on tap and discounted a bit to further the cause.
Wherever the oak chips fall ...
Saturday, November 17, 2007
When the best beer available in the area that is billed as Millionaire’s Row is Heineken, and it is served in a can, it’s obvious that people don’t go to Churchill Downs to drink good beer. Or, for that matter, any casino.
The dialect spoken by locals isn’t German, and most Bavarian beer halls offer neither hamburgers nor ESPN on television, but Newport’s Hofbrauhaus is as authentic as might be hoped given the many differences in pork production between Kentucky and Franconia. The Weizenbock was brilliant.
The Thomas Family Winery in Madison is responsible for great wine, cider and even Sack (a variety of sherry), and even better, the Celtic ambience of its tasting room provides a contrarian’s favored change of pace from the usual winery chic.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Regular readers will note that writing has been eratic of late. Kindly understand that plenty of beer has been consumed during this period.
Might that be the problem?
Publicanista! November 15, 2007.
I. PUBLICAN'S CHOICE: YES, THERE'S BEEN SOME SLACKING GOING ON.
II. BEER (MERCHANT DU VIN) AND CHEESE (LOCAL) TASTING ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19 AT 6:30 P.M. AT PROST.
III. POSSIBLE TOUR DATES FOR THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST BEER TOUR IN MAY, 2008.
IV. RECENT NEWS AND ARTICLES AT THE POTABLE CURMUDGEON’S BEER BLOG.
V: DRAFT BEERS: OUR LIQUID, DAILY BREAD, ON TAP AT RICH O’S AND SPORTSTIME.
VI. CALENDAR OF EVENTS, HOURS AND RELATED FACTS.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
My wife Diana enjoyed a menu individually crafted to suit her vegetarian and lactose intolerant needs, and she remarked that it was brilliant. Memorably, her main course was a gigantic squash stuffed with rice and other goodies. I lost sight of her seated behind it.
Meanwhile, her cousin Jennie and I savored the marquee choices for omnivores.
The appetizer of scallop ceviche (with mushroom, avocado, ginger and fire roasted cherry tomato salad) had a pleasing sushi-like quality, and while this usually sends me scrambling for the hops, this time the citrus limeade flavor of the dish paired perfectly with Schlafly Hefeweizen’s "straight," clean wheat character.
I could have had a whole plate of the scallops … but I say that every time, don’t I?
Seafood bisque was paired with Schlafly’s English-accented Pale Ale, and it was a mellow call, though hardly daring.
The delicious main course was a thick, juicy coriander and cumin encrusted pork chop in a lager & mustard cream sauce, accompanied by braised granny smith apples and red cabbage. Succulent indeed, and the Germanic thrust of it proved a knockout with Schlafly Number 15, the brewery’s Dunkel Weizen. Jennie had fun trying to sort through the aromas of bubble gum and fruit, and Mitch Turner explained that the inspiration was Schneider’s Bavarian classic. Simply a mouthwatering match.
Another pairing choice was offered with the pork: Schlafly Dry Hopped American Pale Ale, which I saved it to cleanse the palate after the pork chop had been dispatched.
Dessert originally was billed as hazelnut ice cream, then became a truffle for the evening menu, and finally materialized as a rich chocolate cake paired with Schlafly Coffee Stout. Yet again, it was an appropriate flavor combo, even if I continue to prefer a beefier stout than that underpinning Schlafly’s version, which nonetheless has a wonderful coffee taste.
All in all, it was textbook stuff, and well worth the time and expense. The pairings were “spot on” although not as offbeat as those offered by the Creative Costume crew on October 29th. It was a great pleasure to chat with the Schlafly road warriors in the intimate confines of the L & N, which has a solid short beer list to go along with numerous wines by the glass, courtesy of the Cruvinet.
You haven’t been there yet?
Tell Len and Nancy I sent you.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
While Tisha remains in the process of rounding up suitable cheeses (we’re hoping these will be primarily local), the beer lineup, which is drawn entirely from the portfolio of Merchant du Vin, is ready for sampling.
Ayinger Braü Weisse
A classic Bavarian-style wheat ale with the typical balance between fruity esters and clove.
Green’s Quest Tripel Ale
Gluten-free, vegan ale; contract brewed in Belgium by DeProef, and never before tasted by the Publican.
The least sweet of the Lindemans fruit lambic range retains a hint of funk and a powerful black currant punch.
Orval Trappist Ale
This quirky standard bearer from Belgium’s prettiest Trappist monastery has English antecedents and is dry-hopped, with the suggestion of a sliver of wild yeast adding to the fun.
Samuel Smith Winter Welcome Ale
Tadcaster’s brownish-amber seasonal ritual is a silky and rich ale for cooler weather.
Traquair House Ale
Strong ale along the lines of barley wine, brewed in an old Scottish place and hinting at peat.
Zatec Bright Lager
Textbook hop-accented Czech lager, known everywhere except the Czech Republic as a “pilsner” style.
To defray the cost of the cheeses, we’re asking for a $10 cover, and the starting time is 6:30 p.m. To RSVP, contact me at the e-mail address in my blogger profile.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Note two unfortunate scratches among the Belgians: St. Feuillien Cuvee de Noel and Urthel Bock.
Note also one addition to the USA roster: Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza.
There'll be more of both.
Biere de Miel (Dupont)
De Dolle Stille Nacht
De Glazen Toren Canaster Winter Scotch
De Glazen Toren Cuvee Angelique
De Ranke Pere Noel
Dupont Avec les Bons Voeux
Gouden Carolus Noel
La Rulles Cuvee Meilleurs Voeux
WinterCoat Yule Ale
Young's Winter Warmer
Aventinus Weizen Doppelbock
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen
Uerige Sticke (gravity keg)
Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout
Hitachino Nest XH (aged in Shochu distilled sake casks)
Anchor Christmas Ale (“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year”)
Barley Island Bourbon Barrel-Aged Oatmeal Stout
BBC Hell for Certain
Bell’s Java Stout
Bell’s Winter White
Boulder Never Summer Ale
Breckenridge Christmas Ale
Brooklyn Brewery Winter Ale
Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Hang Ten Weizen Doppelbock
Clipper City “Heavy Seas” Winter Storm
Dark Horse Tres Blueberry Stout
Flying Dog K-9 Cruiser
Great Divide Hibernation Ale
Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout
Harpoon Winter Warmer
NEW Jolly Pumpkin Noel de Calabaza
NABC Bonfire of the Valkyries
NABC Naughty Claus
New Holland Dragon’s Milk
North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
Oaken Barrel Epiphany
Pyramid Snow Cap
Rogue Chocolate Stout
Rogue HazelNut Brown Nectar
Rogue JLS Santa’s Private Reserve
Schlafly Christmas Ale
Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
Three Floyds Alpha Klaus Xmas Porter
Upland Winter Warmer
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The same goes for this: “Okay, if you won’t tell me your favorite beer, then what about your favorite style of beer?”
Granted, there’s no reason why newcomers should know the drill, and that’s fine, so if you’re just tuning in, know that any query smacking of “favorite” comes replete with numerous qualifiers, including the time of year, the locale, the food being served, and perhaps even the activity being contemplated – the music, the book, the company.
However, having provided the disclaimer, and now thinking back on a year almost concluded, it strikes me that far more often than not, my beer favorites actually can be loosely grouped by category if I care to take the trouble to record them.
Checking the list of beers being squirreled away for Gravity Head 2008, I noticed that we’re in imminent danger of a baker’s dozen of them being Imperial Stouts. Furthermore, I’ve concluded that this doesn’t bother me in the least. Black, oily, roasted, chocolate tinged, bitter … bring ‘em on, and don’t forget the pickled herring and rugged pumpernickel.
Sour (any sub-style will do, ma’am)
My liver will remember 2007 as the year that Rodenbach Grand Cru returned to Southern Indiana, consistent supplies of Jolly Pumpkin began trickling in on a regular basis, and NABC’s late summer batch of Phoenix Kentucky Komon proved to be the best ever, perhaps owing to the hundred degree temperature in the brewhouse. I can’t get enough of than funky stuff.
Speaking of funk, just last night it was my pleasure to introduce a discerning customer to Cantillon Gueuze for the very first time. His enjoyment so influenced me that I made a quick dash to the lambic rack for a bottle of 3 Fonteinen Schaerbeek Kriek and split it with him just to provide an opportunity to taste the unsweetened fruit essence.
Barring the unforeseen, the evening of Monday, December 10 will be spent in part quaffing Schlenkerla Marzen somewhere within the hallowed halls of the Trum family’s traditional Bamberg pub. Earlier this year, Rich O’s had four Schlenkerla lagers (and Spezial) on tap simultaneously along with NABC Happy Helmut, which used Weyermann smoked malt. NABC ConeSmoker is aging as I write.
Hops, hops, hops
Yes, they’re in short supply, but I suppose we’ll manage. What will you pay for a fix? I’m prepared to go high, not home.
If these represent what’s hot, then what’s not?
I try them again periodically, hoping that the light bulb might someday ignite, but very few (if any) brown ales in the style of Newcastle made their way past me teeth during the past year, and almost as few American-style browns. A notable exception was Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown, but then that’s hardly typical of the style, is it? It reminds me far more of the Colonial-era molasses ales.
Browns, ambers, reds … yes, perhaps serviceable on widely scattered occasions, but otherwise a waste of valuable drinking time for anyone who has progressed beyond intermediate. Life’s just too short. IPA, please.
Outside of a few scorching days in mid-summer, the broad range of wheat ales, whether German, Belgian or American, again utterly failed to excite me. I’ll drink the European ones for the purpose of refreshment when joyfully present on the continent and beercycling, and of course I’d visit the Schneider brewery in Kelheim weekly if permitted, but there was no biking trip this year.
In like fashion, the biggest disappointment of the year to me was Bell’s Batch 8000. Imperial Wit just isn’t where it’s at even if I continue to adore the brewery otherwise.
And I keep forgetting to try Miller Chill … neglecting to visit Louisville’s pre-packaged Fourth Street Live … let’s see, what else?
Friday, November 09, 2007
Roughly half way through, and just before developing a surprising (for me) affinity for the distillery's Grappa, I started chatting with winemaker Ted Huber, and before leaving, we'd hatched a plot to stage a grand cooperative Huber wine and spirits/NABC beer dinner or tasting of an as yet undefined variety some time in March 2008.
Now that sounds like fun. I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, here's the story from the Huber web site:
Huber’s Orchard & Winery began farming back in 1843 when our ancestors settled in Starlight, IN from Baden-Baden, Germany . Growing primarily fruit, our farm began to diversify in 1978 when we opened the doors of our winery.
Today, we have over 550 acres of farmland on which we grow many fruits, vegetables, Christmas trees, pumpkins, and grapes. We have a children's farm park, farm market, cheese shoppe, ice cream factory, winery, gift shoppe, banquet facility, Indiana’s first distillery – The Starlight Distillery, and proudly participate as one of the seven wineries on Indiana’s first wine trail – The Indiana Uplands Wine Trail.
Diversification was an important strategy for us and helped to keep business consistent throughout the year so that we became less seasonal. Certainly, diversification has allowed us to keep seven generations of Huber’s busy and working on the farm.
An important thing to remember about diversification is it does not happen over night but over time. Patience, passion, and planning are vital to the success of diversified farms. A challenge with diversification is quality – ensuring that your pace of growth and diversification maintains the quality your business strives for.
The most enjoyable part about being in our business is the focus on families, tradition, and heritage. Knowing families that we touch each day and the countless memories that are made through an experience at Huber’s Orchard & Winery!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
November 2007 FOSSILS Newsletter
We’re pleased to announce that Brian Reymiller of Browning’s Brewpub will be our speaker this Saturday, November 10. Brian learned traditional German brewing techniques at Victory Brewing but also enjoys experimenting with the endless variables found in ales.
The November meeting features the return of the annual FOSSILS porter contest. This contest dates back to 1993 when Dennis Barry won. Ed Tash has solicited more porters this year and hopes to set a new record with the number of entries. He continues to do a masterful job in administering one of the few AHA-sanctioned contests in this area. Ed Tash will be at Rich O's on November 8th to pick up porter contest entries – minimum 2 bottles. Information about the porter contest is found at the following link:
The current BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) porter styles are:
12a. Brown Porter – Mild to moderate roastiness with a softer, sweeter taste than its bigger brother – robust porter. O.G. 1.040 – 1.052
12b. Robust Porter – Roasty but not with the overwhelming roastiness of a stout. O.G. 1.048 – 1.065
12c. Baltic Porter – A sweet port-like strength lager. 1.060 – 1.090
Specialty Porters – Other porter variations include smoked malt or wood/bourbon barrel aged.
Local Commercial Porters
Continuing with the porter theme this month, I have gathered some tidbits of information about some of the Louisville-area commercial porters.
Bluegrass Brewing Company
Dark Star Porter was created by David Pierce after trying Boulevard Brewing Company’s Bully Porter from a Beer Across America shipment in 1992. The Dark Star name comes from the 1953 Kentucky Derby winner. Dark Star won a silver medal in the 1998 Real Ale Festival and was voted the best porter in America by Stuff magazine in 2006. Stuff also listed the beer as number 24 of their top 50 beers.
A combination of English and German malts flavor Browning’s John Shield’s Blacksmith porter. The beer’s name comes from the blacksmith that traveled with the Lewis and Clark expedition. Brian Reymiller continues to tweak his recipe with roasted barley and smoked malt.
Mark Allgeier described a creamy porter to Brewer Matt Gould that he had sampled in a trip out west which was served under nitrogen pressure rather than the usual CO2. Matt designed the brew using BBC’s Dark Star porter as a starting point and created the ever popular “Nitro Porter.”
New Albanian Brewing Company
After winning the 2004 FOSSILS porter contest, Bob Capshew’s porter recipe was brewed by NABC’s former brewer Michael Borchers. The robust porter sold well enough that it became a staple of NABC. The beer was named after the AHA robust porter style number 15B at that time despite Roger Baylor’s suggestion of Craikhouse Porter. The inspiration for the recipe came from a porter made by one of the founding LAGER members named Conrad Selle.
AHA Bourbon Barrel Brown Ale
On September 29th the FOSSILS made a barrel of brown ale based on Caleb Sunderman’s winning recipe. The beer will be periodically withdrawn from the barrel and set aside for future evaluation. Samples will also be sent for lab testing. Contact Scott Boyer to get access to the Google group.
Membership Survey Results
Thanks to all that participated in the survey. Beth Howard has compiled a very interesting profile of our club membership. The results will be posted on the website.
New Homebrew Shop in Madison IN
The Stein and Stem has opened at 112 East Main Street in Madison Indiana. They are located in the former tasting room of Lanthier Winery for those of you familiar with the town. Their number is 812.292.0332.
BOCK (Brewers of Central Kentucky) Member Wins Silver Medal in AHA
Lexington, KENTUCKY - Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company is pleased to announce that Paris, Kentucky home brewer Bill Caldwell and his German Hefeweizen recipe won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) Pro-Am Competition, the largest national beer competition recognizing the most outstanding beers produced in theUnited States today.
The GABF Pro-Am entries are brewed by professional craft brewers based on award-winning homebrew recipes from American Home brewers Association (AHA) members. Homebrew recipes are scaled up and brewed at a craft brewery for submission into the competition.
Caldwell said, "I still can't believe it. This is a nice feather in the cap of Alltech and Kentucky Ale."
"We're pleased to be a part of the Pro-Am competition," said Christopher Bird, master brewer at Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company. "It's a chance for us to not only help a talented home brewer, but to try our hands at brewing a wheat beer, which is something new and exciting for us."
Caldwell, a resident of Paris, Kentucky, has been an avid home brewer since 1975 and a member of the Brewers of Central Kentucky (B.O.C.K.) since 1994. Mr. Caldwell's winning recipe is a Hefeweizen, a German wheat beer that he discovered on a trip to Germany in March 2007. The recipe was printed on the menu of the Schneider Brewery and Restaurant in Munich. Bringing the recipe home and adding the unique flavor of Munich malt, Mr. Caldwell created his winning beer.
More than 100 judges labored for three days to evaluate 2,793 beers and pick the best entries and top breweries for this year's festival. Medals were awarded in 75 beer-style categories with only 8 percent of all beers entered earning a medal.
Alltech's Lexington Brewing Company currently produces three award-winning beers, Kentucky Ale, Kentucky Light and Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. Alltech is the proud sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010T to be held September 25-October 10, 2010.
November 10 – Porter Contest
November ?? – Executive Meeting – contact Bob Capshew if you want to be notified
December 8 – Holiday Party
January 12 – Funky & Pungent Appetizer Contest
FOSSILS Supporters and Friends
FOSSILS is generously supported by and supportive of these beer -friendly businesses (In no particular order):
Rich O's, Sportstime Pizza and The New Albanian Brewing Company – As founding FOSSILS members, Roger & his crew have always been an integral part of our club, serving as our home base since 1990. With a beer list unrivaled in the Midwest, excellent food and the fine handcrafted beers of the New Albanian Brewing Company on site, this is the BEST place for FOSSILS to call home.
Youngstown Cigar Shop - Tobacco lovers will find cigars, pipes, pipe tobacco, lighters, humidors, and many other accessories at Mike's fine establishment. The shop is located behind Regions Bank, East 10th Street in Jeffersonville, 1 mile from I-65 (exit 1). NOW SERVING BEER ON TAP!
The Keg Liquors, FOSSILS member and Keg owner Todd Antz carries a fine selection of micro and imported beers at his Clarksville store at 617 East Lewis and Clark Parkway, Clarksville, IN (812) 283-3988. Check their website for periodic beer and wine sampling nights.
Riley Ridge Wine, Beer and Canning Supply Shop, LLC - "Let us help you enjoy the fruits of your labor."
Visit FOSSILS members Becky and John Riley at 6335 Riley Ridge Road in Lanesville for a full line of wine and beer supplies. Plus, the offer canning supplies all year and will be glad to set you up with gifts and gift certificates. Hours: Mon/Tues/Thur/Fri. 10 – 6 pm; Sat.12 – 5 pm; Closed Wednesdays and Sundays. Call for details and directions (812) 952-2121.
Sarah Ring with Harrison Realty - Understanding the needs of beer drinkers since 1993 through Bluegrass Brewing Company, now wheeling and dealing houses for FOSSILS and Friends in Southern Indiana. Referrals always welcome -call 502-550-9503.
Memphis Meat Processing - These are the guys who donate the very cool buffalo femurs we make into lamps. They offer great quality buffalo meat at good prices.
FOSSILS sponsorship is an effective way to reach discerning and intelligent readers who are your friends and customers. Not Dog advertising is bartered for goods and services donated to the club. If you are interested in becoming a FOSSILS sponsor, please contact Bob Capshew.
FOSSILS Contact Information
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Once upon a time, a customer asked the bartender at one of the Hops chain of bland brewpubs, “How many different colors can you guys make Budweiser?”
Now, NABC’s brewer Jesse Williams asks: “How many different heather ales can we make?”
No one’s laughing any more when the topic turns to the medieval practice of balancing malt sweetness with tree bark. For now, the worldwide hop shortage is real, and malt’s not cheap, either, since farmers can more profitably grow corn for inserting into our gas tanks so we can continue driving 50 yards to the foot of the driveway to collect the mail.
Stainless steel? It’s all in China.
And, you have to be ever vigilant and ready to unleash the Taser lest a local meth head is spotted climbing up the wall outside in broad daylight to filch thirteen inches of copper wire.
Our current house guest, a native of Plymouth, England, just nods her head as I complain. After all, she grew up in the UK during the 50's and 60's, and watched first hand what happens after the empire goes away.
Roger Waters did, too, and he said it best:
“Hello … is there anybody in there …”
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
(Crossposted at NA Confidential)
You must have an ID to vote – and to get served after you vote.
If you're looking for a polling place, call the Floyd County Democratic Party at 812-207-7941.
To quote Groucho Marx, when the taps finally open at 6:00 p.m., there'll be "dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor," at least until the sad reality of Dan Coffey's inevitable victory over write-in candidate Skittles the Cat begins to sink in. I'll likely be at Connor's Place for celebration and commiseration.
You've forgotten: The following first ran on May 2, 2006.
Another election day is here, and with it eleven hours of state-mandated prohibition against the sale of demon rum.
Presumably, this unwelcome vestige of an otherwise discredited social policy serves as a bulwark against the horrific possibility that unscrupulous politicos or their conniving agents might swap half-pints of Kessler (or a similarly valued slopping spree at a downtown tavern) in exchange for a poor wretch’s vote.
As there exists no commensurate prohibition against the sale of strong black coffee, chocolate-covered Krispy Kremes and hickory-smoked bacon, apparently the veiled but very real threat of breakfast-induced bribery is not worthy of the same scrutiny as that posed by the insidious grape and the grain.
If you’re hopelessly intoxicated after ingesting that half-pint of Kessler, are you really any more destructive to democracy than the perfectly sober voter who is following instructions provided by a fundamentalist preacher who has promised not temporal inebriation, but a favorable reference when the time comes to take up residence in heaven?
Nope, me thinks you're not. We hope you thought ahead and visited your favorite package store on Monday night.
Monday, November 05, 2007
For those just tuning in, every two weeks the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) publishes a 300-word essay about beer written by the Curmudgeon.
Although I had my doubts at first (my topic sentences tend to run 300 words), it has proven to be great fun and good practice in self-discipline, something for which I'm not universally noted.
Here are the links to recent articles:
Mug Shots: Finnish beer and subtlety
(October 31, 2007)
Mug Shots: Lupulus eroticus
(October 17, 2007)
Mug Shots: A case of the DTs in Belgium
(October 3, 2007)
Mug Shots: Germany’s Oktoberfest — once bitten, twice shy
(September 19, 2007)
Mug Shots: Madison’s got game
(September 5, 2007)
Mug Shots: Gulp with the gators, slurp with the sloths
(August 22, 2007)
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Friday, November 02, 2007
Schlafly road warriors invade Louisville: L & N beer dinner Nov. 13, then big beer at Little Sicily the following day.
Which brings us to the forthcoming Schlafly Beer Dinner at the L & N on Tuesday, November 13 ... and here’s the menu.
Mushroom, avocado, ginger and fire roasted cherry tomato salad; paired with Schlafly Hefeweizen.
Served with shrimp garnish; paired with Schlafly Pale Ale.
Coriander and Cumin encrusted pork chop
Boulanger potatoes, braised granny smith apples and red cabbage, lager & mustard cream sauce; dual pairings: Schlafly Dry Hopped American Pale Ale and Schlafly Number 15.
Hazelnut Ice Cream
Paired with Schlafly Coffee Stout
Starting time is 7:00 p.m. The price is $45 plus tax and gratuity, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 502-897-0070.
The following day (Nov. 14), presumably sated and having made all their required promotional visits and sales stops, the Schlafly crew will reassemble at Bearno’s Little Sicily (Highlands branch on Bardstown Road) to unveil Schlafly’s 2007 Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, about which the brewery has this to say:
This beer is our interpretation of a classic style. Around the time of the Louisiana Purchase, beer was not the mass-produced, light lager that most people consume today. Beer was darker in color, full-flavored, aggressively hopped, and had a high initial gravity. All of these characteristics would have helped the beer to remain fresh during extended periods at warmer temperatures while it was shipped in wooden barrels. If one had been lucky enough to receive a used Bourbon barrel full of Imperial Stout, this is what their happy taste buds would have encountered: roasty, rich, malty Imperial Stout with a strong dose of caramel, oak, and Bourbon character.
The Bearno’s event starts at 8:00 p.m., with the 2007 vintage on hand as advertised, as well as “a few bottles of last year's vintage.”
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Brewed in honor of the New Albanian Brewing Company's past (Community Dark first rolled off the line in late October, 2002), V (fifth anniversary) is Jesse's and Jared's latest contemporary contribution to NABC myth and legend.
Here are the specs:
ABV: Circa 10%
5 MALTS: Maris Otter, 2-row, Caramalt, special B, aromatic
5 HOPS, 5 HOP ADDITIONS: Simcoe, Saaz, Nugget, Galena, Centennial
YEAST: House London
NOTES: 5,555 second boil (92 minutes, 35 seconds)
We'll dispense some now, then cellar the rest for future enjoyment, including a few kegs with oak chips.
(Artwork to follow)