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


Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Affair with Sofie & Matilda -- Another Great Beer Dinner/Fantasy Camp

I once again had the privilege to attend another excellent beer dinner this past week at Lacasa Del Sol in Thibodaux, LA.  I was an invited guess to a private/working dinner with the employees of Buquet Distributors of Houma.  I had the pleasure of having a wonderful meal prepared  by Chef Roy Guilbeau Jr that was paired with 4 beers from the Goose Island Vintage Ale line of beers.   As you can imagine when I received the invite....I was like of course I'll be there, being a fan of great food, Goose Island beer and beer knowledge.

First a little info on Goose Island brewery.  It is a craft brewery in Chicago that has been producing excellent beers for some time.  I am huge fan of their limited and series releases.  But I know some of  my readers who are avid craft beer lovers or the beer snobs out there will say that ... NO!  Goose Island sold out when Anheuser-Busch purchased the brewery a few years back.  I take a different opinion, I see it as business and there will be more such purchases in the future.  What I like about Goose Island, besides the beer, is they kept much creative control and continue to brew much of the beers like they did before in Chicago.   One of the reasons being that in the Vintage Series they use wild yeast strains.  Anheuser-Busch would never allow this into their main Breweries.  The risk of contamination with their high volume mass market beers are to great.  There is a big difference in my book with a large company buying a small craft brewer vs. a large mass market brewer trying to act like a craft brewer.  To me it is more about the beer...not the marketing.

Now back to the beer dinner.  There was about 26 Buquet employees and myself.  I was asked to say a few words at the event.  I remember saying to the fellow attendees that "this may seem like work for you guys having to learn about beer and pairings, but to a craft beer and food lover like myself this is like being a baseball fan and taking batting practice with the Atlanta Braves during spring training"  It was pretty cool bringing in attendance.  It was a very good event and the information and knowledge shared was spot on.

Prior to the meal we started off with Goose Island 312 from their Urban Ale series.  A year round beer that has a nice malty flavor with a light citrus finish from the hops.  5.4%ABV and IBU of 30.  If you are new to the beer scene and looking to expand you palate this would be a good place to start.

The first course was an Oyster Chowder paired with Matilda, A Belgian style pale ale with a 7%ABV and IBU of 26.  This beer is bottled conditioned and can continue to improve if cellared for up to 5 years or more.   My initial thoughts when I heard that the Vintage series was being used Chef Roy would start off with Sofie and work his way up to Matilda.  But once again Chef Roy was spot on when combined with the earthiness of the oysters this was a perfect choice to begin.

The second course brought in my other lady friend Sofie.  A Belgian Farmhouse style ale with  6.5%ABV and IBU of 20.  This beer is aged in wine barrels with orange peel.  Another bottled aged and conditioned beer that is moderately carbonated that reminds me of the refreshing crispness of Champagne.   This was paired with a delicious dish of mole rubbed domestic duck with duck confit salad and a dried cherry sauce.    This pairing worked very well.  I am not always a fan of duck, but my plate was empty after this course.  The duck confit was cooked for 8hrs in its now juices and fat @ 200 degrees then shredded.   Excellent!

The third course, we more on to the men of the Vintage Ale series...Pepe Nero, another Belgian Farmhouse Ale.  6.4% ABV and IBU of 30.  This is a nice dark beer with great roasted flavors.  It would pair well with beef or venison.  The dish of choice was variation of a Beef Wellington with sweet potato mash.  Once again the food was spot on.  Instead of the traditional puff pastry Chef Roy choose filo dough.  The flavors and tenderness was very good.  The pastry could of been a little crisper, but the flavors were great and the pairing was perfect.   Being a beef lover and dark beer lover, going back to the baseball analogy, this was right in my wheel house.  I was nice to have the Belgian Farmhouse ales back to back to compare and contrast the great difference between the two beers.

The final course (which my wife is still giving me grief for not bringing her one home) was a Banana Creme Brûlée with fresh Bananas and Foster sauce.  The dessert was paired with Pere Jaques - A Belgian style Abby Ale, a Belgian double.  8.7%ABV and IBU of 26.  This a a classic Belgian Abby Style with many fruity notes and flavors...especially bananas.  This pairing had me questioning the choice, I would of considered an more malty or chocolate flavor to complement the bananas.  But that is what makes food and beer pairing an art and a science.  Chef Roy went a different route and line of thinking.  I am happy he did.  With the beer having such prominent banana flavors he felt that the banana dessert would cancel and mask them allowing some of the other minor and less prominent flavors of the complex beer to shine though and it did.   Having dank this beer a few times before, but never paired like this, I never noticed the complexity of this beer.   Another great choice!

Sorry for the length of the post, but I felt like i had to do justice to these great beers from Goose Island and to the excellent food that was served.  This is the second beer pairing dinner that I attend at LaCasa Del Sol and I am so impress with the food prepared.  If you get the chance to attend an won't be disappointed.    Again I would like to thank Buquet distributors and LaCasa Del Sol for allowing me to attend work meeting for you and Fantasy camp for me. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

St Patrick's Day

Another holiday where many use for an excuse to drink and eat and drink.
But I feel that if you going to celebrate the holiday, at least try and remain true to the true spirit and custom of the holiday.

Information on Spirits to drink that are Irish!

1. Irish Whiskey by law of 1980 which repealed the 1950 law requires that:
        Irish whiskey must be distilled and aged on the island of Ireland.
        Must be distilled to an ABV of less that 94.8% from yeast-fermented mash of cereal grains.
        The product must be aged for at least 3 years in wooden casks.
         If the spirit is made of 2 or more distillates is must be referred to as "blended" Irish Whiskey

2.  There are currently 8 Distilleries in Ireland :
     1. Dingle, 2. West Cork, 3. Midleton, 4. Altech, 5. Kiberggan, 6. Cooley, 7.Eichinville, & 8. Bushmills

3.  Bushmills Distillery is the oldest licensed distillery in the world, est 1784.   Bought by Diageo in 2005.  Their brands include Old Bushmills, 1608, Black Bush, Bushmills 10, 12, 16 and 21 year old single malts.

4. Irish Whiskey has increase sales in the US at 17.5% last year

5. Irish know I had to write something about beer and no I am not talking about the green dyed crap that is served in so many places.  I am talking Beer brewed in Ireland. Being a beer drinker who enjoys stouts there are quite a few very good beers from Ireland.

 Beamish Stout : a stout similar to Guinness that uses Beamish yeast dating back to 1792

Guinness Draught ask the bartender for a "perfect pint" it is an optimal pouring method which according to the company should take 119.53 seconds

Murphy's Irish Stout the lightest and sweetest of the Ireland 3 stouts

Porterhouse Oyster Stout Ireland's largest independent brewery

Guinness Extra Stout relaunched in the US in 2010 but was first shipped here in 1817

Harp Lager a lighter crisp lager

Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale the taste can be described as Smithwick's with less hops and creamy head like Guinness.

Smithwick's Irish Ale dates back to the 14th century when monks brewed the beer

Murphy's Irish Ale was bought by Heineken in 1983

Ohara's Cletic Stout an old school stout with just hops, barley, yeast and water.

So whatever you choice to celebrate St Patty's it beer or whiskey.  Please at least keep it Irish

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Parade Ground Coffee Porter from Tin Roof Brewery

Parade Ground Coffee Porter from Tin Roof Brewery in Baton Rouge Louisiana is a seasonal American style porter that is full of mocha and coffee flavors and aromas.  Tin Roof brewery like most of the Louisiana craft brewers are relatively new to the craft brewing scene.  The brewery began selling its beer to the public in November of 2010.  A great lil video highlighting the Tin Roof Brewery can be found here by clicking here : Tin Roof Video   It is well worth the watch to give you a nice over view of the philosophy of the owners and brewmaster.

Now back to the Beer:
It is a very solid American porter that comes in at 7%ABV.  Serving was a can.   Yes a can...some of you may be thinking "why drink beer in a can....real beer comes in bottles".  Well that is no longer true.  With the advances in canning, it is often a superior vessel to bottles because it offers better protection to the beer from light than can cause "skunking" of beer even after a few seconds.  It also provides safety to the beer from oxygen which can often lead to cardboard like off flavors.  Not to mention safer and allowed on beaches and near pools or parade routes.

Now back to the beer:
It is a porter that pours dark brown to almost black with a slight hint of crimson.  It has a very light head of creamy beige foam.  The aroma is fully of mocha, chocolates and coffee.   The flavor is consistent with the smell.  Nice solid coffee and chocolate flavors.   It is mildly carbonated with a smooth full mouthfeel.   The finish is dry and crisp with a mild bitterness.

The beer grain build is that of 2 row, pale ale, chocolate, coffee and black malts.  The hops are East Kent Goldings and Northern Brewer.  And it is also brewed with New Orleans Coffee Company mocha and french roast coffee.  The IBU is 35

 It is a very solid Porter from Louisiana that I would give it a solid 4 out of 5.  This ,like my previously reviewed NOLA Irish Channel Stout, could of been an excellent Mardi Gras parade beer selection too.

This is a beer that I think you should give a try that is brewed here in my home state of Louisiana .

"Geaux Local ...  Drink Tin Roof Beer"