Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rye Beer is Good Beer

I generally thought I didn't like rye beer because I can't stand rye bread. Yes: to me, that made sense. But lately I've been enjoying every rye beer I taste, so I think it's time I admit that I'm a fan.

We brought He'Brew (the chosen beer) Bittersweet Lenny's RIPA to the bbq today, and it's delicious. Malty and slightly sweet, with a spicy kick. The hop flavour is tasty, and the malt balances it nicely, giving it a more solid feel than IPAs usually have for me. I think that's due to the rye malt? Maybe. It's 10% ABV, so I can't drink too much of it, but I'm really enjoying my one bottle.

Also, I cooked my own burgers for the first time. Success!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beer Advocate bottle share/tasting at Beer Revolution

Last night a bunch of Beer Advocate members met up at Beer Revolution in Oakland to share beers from our cellars.  Each person was supposed to bring two 22oz bottles, or the equivalent, in rare or out-of-region beer, and then we opened everything and tasted away.

The Lumberjack & I brought Cigar City Big Sound Scotch Ale (Scotch Ale, 8.5% ABV) and Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan (Brown Ale, 4.5% ABV), as well as two other bottles that we received as extras in past trades, and whose names have escaped me.  It was a little nerve-wracking to pull out the beers, since I wanted desperately to impress people, and of course everyone else didn't even really notice what I brought.  Anyway.

There ended up being around 20 people there in our group, which means I tried probably 35-40 beers last night.  You wanted notes on all of them?  Ha.  No.  I do remember rambling at the Lumberjack as we wandered home (but stopping for a hotdog first outside the Uptown) about a few, though, so that's what you'll get.

Kern River Citra DIPA (Double IPA, 8% ABV).  This was the first beer I tried, which might explain why I remember it so well.  But also, it was delicious.  It was pretty foggy, sort of honey-coloured.  It was poured from a growler, but the carbonation held up quite well.  Smells delicious, fruity and citrusy.  It was very smooth, not bitter at all.  It had a little bit of piney hops flavour, but not too much - there was enough of the citrus hops to balance things and make me like it.  I might have gone back for a few more tastings, once I realized everyone had tried it and there was still extra.  This DIPA is delicious and very drinkable, even for IPA-hating newbies.

chuck's on the left, and the right is troy?
trevor? either way, he's very nice.
Lost Abbey Veritas (Sour Ale, 8% ABV).  That is one damn sour beer.  Don't drink it unless you want your mouth to pucker up uncontrollably.  One of my new friends (I can't remember anyone's name, of course, especially since they were almost all one-syllable dude names like Chris and Chad and Dan) just laughed and said "there's no way to NOT pucker while drinking this."  Very true.  I can't remember much of the flavour or specifics, just that I found it very enjoyable, even as it felt like I was losing all moisture from my tongue.  Definitely worth trying out, although if you don't like sours you'll probably not enjoy it.  And since it's from Lost Abbey, be prepared to shell out a bunch of $$$ for the pleasure.

blending the stout with the red
...something that was too smokey, a nice but forgettable IPA, a blackberry lambic that was super tasty, BELGIAN RED! BELGIAN RED!, something-something-Duchess which I loved, and was then told by the Lumberjack that I tasted and hated it last year, a couple of porters and stouts that were pretty tasty...

Oh!  A few people tried out beer mixing, which was fun.  I poured half a taster of BELGIAN RED! and added Smuttynose Stout on top, and it was a tasty blend - kind of like chocolate-covered cherries.

thanks, dude.
I had a dorky beer moment when I realized that someone had brought Black Tuesday (Imperial Stout, 19% ABV - yes - NINETEEN PERCENT HOLY CRAP), which is somewhat of a celebrity in the beer world, I am learning.  I remember this guy was one of the Chrises (Chriss?  Chris?  Chris's?  names that end in S confuse me), and he was very nice.  Getting a Black Tuesday is apparently near-impossible, so having a chance to taste it and see what it's all about was pretty exciting.

And?  Wow.  That beer really is worth all the hubbub.  It was super boozy, as one might expect from being NINETEEN PERCENT ALCOHOL, and that definitely smacked me in the nose when I took a sip, but the flavour was awesome.  Very smooth, very delicious.  It was quite oily and thick, which would make it hard to drink a lot, but nice to have a small sample.  I can't imagine anyone drinks much of this anyway, seeing as how it's NINETEEN PERCENT.  This seemed like a perfect beer to share.  As you can see, we were pretty psyched.

In the end, I stumbled home a little bit drunk but very happy.  Of course I had to be up bright & early to give a work presentation this morning, which was a little rough.  But the other presenter and I talked beer for a bit, I gave my speech and got the whole room laughing about health insurance, and was approached afterward by a woman who says I was the best presenter she's seen, so I guess everything turned out okay.  But my head still hurts a bit.

GABF special event!

Just bought tickets for a "Ladies in Craft Beer" Brunch on Friday during the Great American Beer Festival weekend!

I've been meeting a lot of beer strangers lately - last week I met up with other Bay Area beer bloggers, and last night we had a Beer Advocate bottle share/tasting at Beer Revolution - and overall everyone's been nice and fun to talk to.  However, except for two women last night, it's been all dudes, all the time.  I certainly don't mind the guys, and I enjoy talking to them and have noticed that they all seem happy to talk to me without any weird undertones (people online, however, are a totally different story).  But it would be really nice to meet more of the ladies.  I know they're out there.  I don't need any "girls only" spaces, but having a few more women present would make me happy.  I wish this brunch was local, so that I could meet potential drinking friends, but I'm excited anyway to have an event that is specifically attempting to bring out the ladies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Great American Beer Festival

A little over a month away.  So so excited.  The end.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lamb Takedown at the Thirsty Bear Brewery

For our Anniversary, I took the Lumberjack to the Lamb Takedown, a new (?) event at the Thirsty Bear Brewery in San Francisco.  I had never been to this local brewery but always meant to go, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to not only try out their beers, but also try some interesting edible treats.

It was sort of an Iron Chef event, where local chefs all had to do something exciting with a bunch of lamb.  My favourites were teams that had put some work into their display (see #14, tiny lamb cakes with pine nuts - they were delicious, yes, but also such a cute display!).

It was a pretty good set-up in the brewery - certainly crowded, but enough room to walk around and try some of everything.  My only concern was that there weren't a lot of places to stand where you could put down your plate &/or beer, which meant we frequently had our hands full.  Since I had wanted to try beer/lamb pairings, this made things tricky and a little frustrating at times.  But still, the food was delicious.

My two favourites both involved pickled things, which was surprising to me since I'm still learning to like the pickled flavour.  My number one choice was #9, the "Braised Lamb Buns" which had pickled radish, cucumber, and apricot/sriracha bbq sauce.  SO DELICIOUS.  The best part was that they provided little cups of extra sauce.  And that sauce was damn good.  My second choice, which I believe was the Lumberjack's first choice, and which earned Fourth Place in the People's Choice voting, was #16: Braised lamb with bluecheese and lemongrass and pickled onion on a little polenta bed.  Holy crap, so good.

And then, there was the beer.  I had the Howard Street IPA (IPA, 7% ABV).  It had a pretty honey colour, and just a little lacing.  It smelled like apricots, and tasted nice and fruity.  It had a sparkliness to it, which was a good match for the spicier lamb choices.  I really liked the hops, which were light and gentle, and added to the bubbly/sparkly nature of the beer.  Overall: I am a big fan.

The Lumberjack had Kozlov Stout (Dry Stout, 5% ABV).  It was quite solid and dark, with just a little foam on top.  It was nice and dry, very toasty.  The website says there's chocolate and coffee in there, but I didn't taste that - just the same, it was a really solid stout.  It wasn't too heavy or thick, which made it a good match for a food competition.  The darkness of it blended nicely with the dark lamb meat, especially on the heavier options like pastas and stews.

Later I tried their ESB, which I thought was tasty, and I think it was nitro because it was very smooth and soft.  But after drinking half the glass I got a little bored (as is probably obvious since I didn't take notes), and traded it with the Lumberjack for the rest of his IPA.  So good.

Final thoughts: fun event, good food, tasty beer.  Now I want to go back and get a flight so I can try the other options!