Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo --- the real reason for beer and nachos

I am one American who often does not need much of a reason to raise a glass and make a toast, hell sometimes any day that ends in "Y" will work!  Today is the 5th of May, Cinco de Mayo as my friends South of the border call it.  But no it is not the Mexican Independence day -- That is Sept 16, the date that Father Hidalgo issued the "Grito de Dolores" a call to arms to overthrow the Spanish in 1810.

Cinco de Mayo is not a nation wide holiday in Mexico no matter what Kenny Chesney or the Most Interesting Man in the word would like you to believe.  It is a date that is special to the Mexican State Puebla.  In May of 1862 the French army, who was at that time still a kick ass military forces was marching towards Mexico City to collect unpaid debt that Mexico owed to France.   Mexico was essentially broke.  Along the way to Mexico City, the French Army passed the state of Puebla where a group of approximately 3000 farmers, armed with old rifles and machetes defeated the "superior" French Army of over 8000 troops and drove them back toward the coast.  Unfortunately the French returned about a year later with 30,000 troops and captured Mexico City. The French maintained rule for 3 years.  The Mexican people then were able to overthrow the French with aid from the USA now that our Civil War was over in 1866.

The Battle Puebla is remembered each May 5th, mainly in the State of Puebla.  But it commemorates an event that served to bolster the Mexican resistant movement and became Mexico's David vs Goliath story.  Ironically it is their "Remember the Alamo"  It also served as the launch point for a young officer who was an excellent leader during the battle named Porfiro Diaz.  Diaz became president of Mexico in 1876 and ruled for 35 years, till 1911.

So now that you know the real reason behind  CINCO DE MAYO.... Enjoy a few cervezas (although in my opinion Mexican beer, especially the imported one here is the USA are average at best) I would suggest Modelo,  Tecate. Corona or Dos Equis.  Also no lime...but that is a post for later.

Toast the brave fighters who fought and won (at least for a year) defending their Country against a superior invading force.

Now that we know the real story.   Happy Cinco De Mayo

Sunday, April 27, 2014

St Arnold Beers and Lacasa del Sol Beer Dinner April 2014

The last few months have been great for the food and beer lovers of the area.  Once again I was fortunate to be able to attend another Beer Dinner pairing at Lacasa Del Sol restaurant in Thibodaux.  The popularity of these events have been great and there is now a waiting list, even for the upcoming event that is months away.  The food was prepared by Chef Roy Gilbeau Jr and paired with beers from St Arnold Brewery ...Texas oldest craft brewery.

St Arnold, the patron Saint of Brewers
The first course was Jicama & Tangerine Salad with Grilled Shrimp paired with St. Arnold Summer Pils.  This was a great spring time appetizer that was tasty with the Jicama, tangerine and red apple slaw.  The Grilled Shrimp were excellent, fresh and full flavor.   If only there was sugarcane mature enough in April to add to the shrimp.  But the effort of the staff to secure some at 1 am in the morning is much appreciated.  The St Arnold Summer Pils is a classic Czech Pilsner with German Malts and nobel hops.   and IBU of 41 and ABV of 4.9%.
Jicama & Tangerine Grilled Shrimp
The next course was my favorite dish of the night.... Crema de Elote with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat and Queso Fresco paired with St Arnold Weedwacker.  The corn based soup was perfect and the fresh local lump crabmeat was perfectly executed.   (I was even lucky enough to score some the next day for lunch). The St Arnold  Weedwacker  is a unique beer that it is the same beer as the Lawnmower , but uses Bavarian Hefeweizen yeast instead of the Kolsch yeast.   It is unfiltered and the notes of clove and banana are present.  4.9%ABV and IBU of 15.   A nice comparison is to try the Lawnmower and a Weedwacker and notice the difference that just changing the yeast  used in the brewing process creates a different and distinct beer,
Crema de Elote with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat & Queso Fresco
The following course was a Brown Butter Poached Mahi-Mahi with potatoes & chorizo paired with St Arnold Lawnmower.   The Mahi-Mahi was prepared different than what I have had in the past and I found it very tasty, moist and remained the flavor of an already mild tasting fish.  It was poached in clarified butter at about 200 degrees for 25 mins.  It was lightly seasoned.  The fish was moist and flavorful.  The seasoned potatoes and chorizo complemented the fish well.   The pairing of the St Arnold Lawnmower worked well. It is a nice crisp classic Kolsch style beer with an IBU of 20 and ABV os 4.9.
Brown Butter Poached Mahi Mahi with Potatoes & Chorizo
The fourth course was Duck Confit Empanadas with Avocado Relish paired with St Arnold Endeavor.  The Duck Confit was excellent again.  in this meal it was used in an empanada vs. in a fresh salad.    another favorite dish of the beer dinners.  I am not much of an avocado fan, but based on the plates of the people near me it was well prepared because it was gone!   The St Arnold Endeavor is a double IPA that was initially brewed as the Devine Reserve #11.   I thought is was a very good IPA with an IBU of 76 and an ABV of 8.9%.   I see IPA's are slowly growing in popularity in this area as the palates of the beer drinkers are maturing.   What is nice to see is that after having the beer paired with the food some patrons said now that is much better.   It is art , it is science but when it works it is sure nice to witness.
Duck Confit Empanadas with Avocado Relish
The next to last course was Smoked Brisket with Charo Beans and Chimichurri pair with St Arnold Santo.  This was a good pairing,  the brisket to me was a bit bitter and maybe a bit over smoked. ( I tend to be picky with my smoked food being a proud Big Green Egg --Low and Slow cooker)   The meat was tender and Charo beans were excellent.  It also worked well with the St Arnold Santo.   This beer seem to be well received and many customers were commenting of how much they enjoyed this beer and pairing. Santo has an IBU of 17 and ABV of 4.7%. It is a hybrid style that they call a "Black Kolsch".  The addition of the black malt gives it a unique and pleasing flavor. 
Smoked Brisket with Charo Beans & Chimichurri
The final course was a Dark Chocolate & Chipotle Pecan encrusted Fried Ice Cream with Espresso Whipped Cream paired with St Arnold Bishop's Barrel No 4.   I was really excited about this course being a fan of chocolate and a Big fan of the St Arnold Bishop's Barrel series.    The slight disappointment, which is also a plus was the amount of food we received with the prior courses, I was getting a bit full.  But it did not stop me!!  The dessert was delicious, perhaps a little to much heat from the chipotle, I am more a sweet than savory dessert guy.  But with the St Arnold Bishop's Barrel no 4, it was a great way to end another very well done Beer Dinner.   The Bishop Barrel is Wiezenbock with cocoa nibs that is aged in Bourbon barrels.  It is blended with 10% fresh beer and has an ABV of 9.9%.   I had to grab a second glass to enjoy on the way out.  The beer alone would of been a perfect dessert in my book.
Pecan Encrusted Chocolate and Chipotle Fried Ice Cream

Another successful beer dinner is in the books.  I am looking forward to the next one.  I really like the way they pair it with one brewery.  I find that format much more enjoyable than some presentations that I been to that are distributor pushed and almost feels like a sales pitch.  The feed back that I am receiving from other customers is that they are impressed with the quality of the food and the value.  60$/person which includes tax and is hard to beat!  If you get a chance to make the next early and get on the list.  I'll see ya there because i hope not to miss one!

I'll conclude this long post with a group photo of A few of the attendees, Chef Guilbeau, Halston - the St Arnaold rep( I may have to write a post just on her, she was a pleasure to meet and her passion was awesome)  & myself.   


Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Long Awaited Beer and Not Disappointed KBS - Kentucky Breakfast Stout

When I first heard that Founders Brewing was going to be distributed in Louisiana starting in April of 2014, the first thing I thought was

My hopes were that we, the beer lovers of the area, would be lucky enough to get some in the Houma Thibodaux area, but I had some doubt due to the fact that we were just bringing Founders in to Louisiana the month of the year, April that KBS is released.  KBS is a highly sort after beer with limited production that is only released once a year.  KBS is currently rated #5 of the Top 250 beers on Beer Advocate.

So as luck has it the Houma/Thibodaux area was able to get there hands on one keg of KBS.  It was tapped on 4-17-14 at Whch Craft? in Houma.  An old high school friend of mine sent me a message and out the door I went.  Both to my happiness and disappointment there was a good crowd of men and women sampling KBS, happy because it is great to see the passion for good beer grow in this area, but disappointed that it meant the KBS would not last as long on tap  :)

So after the many year wait I finally get my first pour of KBS... As some of my readers may know I am a fan of Imperial Stouts, but sometimes worry that the wait and the hype creates a certain picture and flavor in ones mind that can be hard for the beer to live up to the expectations.  But in this case I was not disappointed at all!

Kentucky Breakfast Stout (KBS) is brewed once a year by Founders Brewing out of Grand Rapids, MI.  It is an imperial stout that is aged in bourbon barrels for over 1 year in a cave at 55 degrees.  Each April the relativity small amount of beer is released across the country.  

KBS poured from the tap a nice dark black color with some hints of dark brown highlights .  The head was a small bubble, tight tan color.  The aroma was roasted, coffee, chocolate with hints of the bourbon.  As the beer warmed I felt the roasted notes were accentuated and the bourbon tones faded a little.  The mouth feel was full and smooth with a bit of creaminess.  The carbonation was mild.  The that is where it gets really special....was very good, multi levels of flavors that compliment well.  Bold roasted coffee, chocolate , and vanilla flavors were present.  The  bourbon notes and flavor compliment well but not as bold and up front as some barrel aged beers I have had in the past. There was mild bitterness that seem to be more from the coffee and chocolate aspect as opposed to in your face hops.  The alcohol content was not present when the beer was first poured.  It left a great lace along the glass.  But be careful at 11.2%ABV it is a "big boy" beer, it will sneak up on you.  (to prove that taste is a subjective thing my wife drank a KBS and said it was ok, she was not  overly impressed with it.  she said there was "some" aftertaste that she picked up...but she did finish it)

Is this the #5 best beer in the world....well that is hard to decide, as taste is so subjective.   But I can tell you this is one very good beer.  So good the I returned to Which Craft the following day to have another before the tap runs dry.  I think the limited release of this beer adds to the desire of KBS, but again I do feel the hype is justified.  If you get a chance to try some KBS this year, do not pass up the opportunity.   So Far I have been impress with he Founders' Beers that have been released in Louisiana, also give their other beers a try.   I got a feeling you will enjoy them.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

National Beer Day April 7th 2014

Today is one of the best Holidays of the year.....National Beer Day
In honor of the holiday I will repost my blog from 2013.  
Cheers My BEER Drinking Friends 

The 18th Amendment of 1919 prohibited the sale and production of alcohol in the United States.  For nearly 14 years once law abiding citizens, were now criminals in the eyes of the 'law".  Hundreds of  back room speakeasies and bath tub gin makers sprung up all across the US.  This fortunately changed on April 7 1933, the date that the Cullen-Harrison Act was enacted.  The law was actually signed by President Franklin Roosevelt on March 23, 1933.  The Cullen-Harrison Act allowed for the production and sale of beer as long as the alcohol content was less than 4% alcohol by volume (ABV).

These beers are know as Session beers.  It is defined by beer advocate as  : 
Session Beers - Any beer that contains no higher than 5% ABV, featuring a balance between malt and hop characters and, typically, a clean finish.  A combination of which creates a beers with high drinkability.  The purpose of a session beer is to allow a beer drinker to have multiple beers, within a reasonable time period or session, without overwhelming the senses or reaching inappropriate levels of intoxication. (yes you can drink and enjoy beer without getting drunk!!)

Also on April 7,1933 the legendary icon of Budweiser...The Clydesdales began.  August Busch, Jr and Adolphus Bush III surprised their father August A. Busch, Sr, with a gift of a 6 horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition.  The company also realized the marketing potential and sent a 2nd 6 horse Clydesdale hitch to New York City.  They were driven by Billy Wales.  Thousands of people followed the horses down the streets of New York to the Empire State Building where a case of beer was presented to the former Governor Alfred E Smith.  He fought against Prohibition.

The Clydesdales then continued a tour of New England and the Atlantic States before stopping in Washington DC in April of 1933 to reenact the delivery of a case of Budweiser to President Roosevelt that was sent April 7, 1933 by air.  

So remember today and every day that you raise a pint, a long neck or a can of your favorite beer that there is history behind every sip.  A story that makes each sip a bit more satisfying.  

So my friends today I raise a glass to toast BEER, because without it a toast would just not be the same

I must give a nod to  Justin Smith who is credited with creating this beer holiday.  Thanks to Justin, social media and the lovers of beer, many restaurants, pubs, home brewers & beer drinkers across the United States will be celebrating National Beer Day