Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More Cowbell Milk Stout by Tustin Brewing Company – Quick Review



Tustin Brewing Company's More Cowbell is incredible. This milk stout* is layered with sweet, malty notes and has a fluffy mouthfeel. Its pitch-black body color lies beneath a soft, creamy, tan-colored head. It’s a velvety smooth, rich textured beer that leaves chocolate and milk-coffee notes on the tongue & nose. Sound intriguing? Well, it should because Head Brewer, Jerrod Larson, struck (black) gold with this brew.

Larson mentioned he will make different variations of More Cowbell, including one with coffee and experiments on cask. At the moment it is served in both CO2 and Nitro with notable differences between the two. The main distinction between them is the mouthfeel with the Nitro version having a more of a silky texture to it. The CO2 version is carbonated which contributes to a more malty character and complexity. Your choice is left entirely to personal preference, but you can't go wrong with either one (both are quite tasty).

This beer hits the style in every vital statistic. Color, aroma, taste, ABV, body, and so on are on-key for a milk stout. But, most do not need to know about all that technical stuff to enjoy this beer. Bottom line, More Cowbell is a damn good beer. Have a pint or two.


Cheers!

-Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®




*Brief explanation of a milk stout from a stylistic standpoint: Stouts are brewed with lots of dark, roasted malts that give a chocolate and/or coffee (but not burnt or acrid) flavor to the finished beer. A milk stout is the same except with the typical addition of lactose sugar. Brewer’s yeast will not ferment Lactose sugar, thereby imparting extra sweetness and body (similar to whole milk) in the finished product.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

It’s time to give thanks.
(More images will be provided on "Black Friday." Stay tuned!)



For those that celebrate this holiday, Thanksgiving is one the best time to have friends and family in one place and enjoy some great times and create some amazing memories. The weather is cooler outside, enchanting aromas fill homes inside, and a feast is ready to be placed on the table. 

Time to eat! Should you bring out a Merlot, Pinot Noir or Burgundy? All of which should be fine choices, by the way. However, I prefer to take this time to showcase the versatility and power that beer has at the dinner table. What about before dinner? Or After dinner? Beer does the job there too, of course. 

So, what beers are perfect for a dinner such as this? Unfortunately (or fortunately for those optimistic type. Ha!), there is no right or wrong answer here. The website beeradvocate.com has a decent article about how to choose the correct beers for this meal (Click Here!). I use this article as a base (along with Garrett Oliver’s informative book, The Brewmaster’s Table) for my decisions on what beers to provide for this special meal.

The premise is simple:
1) Greet your guests with an enticing, vibrant beer (Apéritif)
2) Turn it up slightly and arouse the taste buds (Hors d'oeuvre Hour)
3) Follow this with an adaptable beer (Dinner)
4) Match flavor intensities (Dessert)
5) And finally, close-out the evening with wonderful display of power (Digestif)
With this premise in mind, here is my beer lineup for Thanksgiving 2013.

1) Apéritif (before dinner)
Noble Ale Works - Pistol Whip'd
The purpose of this beer is to loosen up the guests with a subtle, yet tasty treat. Something light and refreshing is usually works best since all I’m looking for is “something that will arouse appetites and slowly awaken the senses.”** Hoppy Pilsners and Pales are the best choices here. If hops don’t play well with our tongue, a tangy and vibrant Belgian-style Wit will suffice.
2) Hors d'oeuvre Hour (appetizer)
Rodenbach - Grand Cru

When it’s time for appetizers and finger foods, serve something with a bit more kick. Cheese and meats? Fruit? Array of finger-foods? Depending on what is served, you might want to stick with a hop theme (American Pales and IPA’s) or take a different route with a tangy sour (Flanders Red paired with tangy goad cheeses, for example). Either way, you don’t want to go over-the-top with the hops or sourness. Make sure you are familiar with the flavors of your chosen beers.

3) Dinner
Brasserie La Choulette - Les Bière Des Sans Culottes
The main event! The dinner-table might look intimidating for most wines and even some beers. However, I take the Garrett Oliver approach here. In his book, “The Brewmaster’s Table,” Oliver proclaims that Bière de Gardes are amazing with not just turkey, but with all the side dishes you can think of. You know what? He's absolutely right! I can't think of a clearer choice for this meal. Chances are this beer style will withstand it all!

Other beer styles that work well include Belgian Dubbles or Quads, Hoppy Pilsners, or even a spicy Saison if the table calls for it.
4) Dessert
Bootlegger's "Imperial Phoenix 2012"
As children, we looked forward to the sweet treats that awaited us for dessert. As adults, we can bring that feeling back with the right beer pairing. Imperial Russian Stouts (IRS) are quite possibly the best beers for dessert. Imperial Porters can stand up here, too. Even a crisp Doppelbock with enough chocolate notes will endure. However, IRS's are my first suggestion. There is wood aged, coffee/espresso, chocolate, imperial milk stouts, etc... so be sure to choose the variation that is right for your situation. The last thing you want to do is overpower the dessert with the beer or vice versa.

Interestingly, if you will have intensely rich chocolate desserts, then do yourself a favor and grab tart & tangy Framboise. Ignore the obvious chocolate flavors of an Imperial Porter or IRS. Trust me, your senses will thank you.

5) Digestif (after dinner)
The Bruery - Black Tuesday 2012
Sit back, relax, and as you wonder why/how you just ate so much food, grab a “big” beer to finish off the evening. My suggestion here is to grab a spirit barrel-aged variation of an Imperial Russian Stout, Barleywine, or any other high ABV beer. Standard (non barrel-aged) heavy beers work here, as well. If these style beers are not to your fancy, then perhaps a nice sour, such as a Flanders Brown, will be up your alley. Whatever is your preferred poison, be sure to enjoy the snake-bite.

When it’s all said and done, after dinner is the time I really think about how fortunate I am to be able to enjoy this little luxury. I know my readers agree with me when I say that we are lucky folks, aren’t we. Do not take your fortunes for granted and remember that there are some out there that are not as fortunate. Enjoy your time with your family and friends. That’s what it’s all about.

And with that, I want to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.




Cheers,

Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®



Monday, November 4, 2013

Want to know more about... Keller and Zwickel Biers?

Kellerbire "Ungespundetes" at Braurei Spezial
in Bamberg, Germany.


"What did you just call me!? I do believe this guy insulted me in German!!"

No, no, no. Or should I say, "nein, nein, nein." Kellerbier and Zwickelbier are two German beer styles. The short description is both Kellerbier and Zwickelbier are unfiltered beers from Germany each having an ale and lager variation.

Keller (cellar in German) and Zwickelbier are frailly old styles as they have been around since the middle ages. These beers are rarely found outside of Germany, apart from the craft breweries creating their own interpretations of them. Samuel Adams Alpine Spring, for example, is a readily available (during the spring season) variation.

An authentic Kellerbier has very little effervescence due to the way it is matured (see links below), lots of hop and complex yeasty flavors, and a smooth finish that balances malt and hops nicely. Zwickelbiers are similar in many characteristics to Kellerbier but differ in a few qualities. Zwickelbiers are highly effervescent with a nice, thick head of foam, less bitterness and hop character (therefore, less of a shelf-life), and is overall less aggressive than Kellerbire.

According to the Brewers Association Style Guidelines, Kellerbier and Zwickelbier have both an Ale and Lager version. This basically depends on what is the base-beer that is unfiltered and will usually depend on what area of Germany you are in. For example in Köln, the unfiltered Kölsch Bier (an Ale) will be offered as a Keller or Zwickel, while in Munich an unfiltered Helles Bier (a Lager) will take the stage as either one of the two. These are just two examples as just about any beer can be served in the Keller or Zwickel style, depending on the pub you happen to be at.

For more information, visit the provided links below that can further explain some of the points mentioned above.

These beers are quite interesting and were one of my many pleasant beer-drinking surprises for the duration of my recent stay in Germany. I highly recommend you keep an eye open for and give these a try in the rare occasions they are available in the U.S.



Cheers!

Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®



Helpful and resource links from German Beer Institute (Click on the style)

Kellerbier
Zwickel
Zoiglbier (A Keller sub-style)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Want to know more about... Aging beer?



“But aging is meant for wine and spirits, not beer.”
“Beer will not age well.” 
“You can’t age that beer, it’s to light.”

In my opinion, there's no right or wrong beer with aging. Any beer can be aged, if stored properly and if you really want to. Usually, beers suitable for aging are bottle conditioned (visible yeast sediment), high-gravity (above 8% or so), and have complex flavor profiles to begin with. Not all these conditions have to be met. As stated before, you can age any beer you want... for science!!

What is the proper way to age, or cellar, your beer? That question is also open-ended as there are so many variations of packaging. If in doubt, the brewery might have instructions on how to cellar the beer properly printed on the label, which regularly consists of keeping the beer at around 55° or so. See the link below for a great article on storing beer properly.

One factor that is rarely mentioned is regarding bottle conditioned beers. Bottle conditioned beers have live yeast in them which provide the natural carbonation. Once your beer gets over about 80° or so (depending on yeast strain used), the beer will no longer develop a certain characteristic that live yeast can impart onto a cellared beer. For best result on bottle conditioned beers, temperature control is crucial! This might prove difficult to achieve, unless you actually have an underground cellar or an extra fridge with temperature controls.

Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, Belgian Dubbels and Quads, some Saisons, Flanders Reds/Browns (to a degree), wild/sour ales, etc... (The list goes on) are good to age.

There are beers that I would age just for pure experimentation purposes. Aging an American DIPA (Double/Imperial India Pale Ale) will essentially turn it into a Barleywine over time.

Hell, I had a 3 year old Corona once... I do not recommend it! It was stored in an un-insulated garage (temperatures rose to 120° in the summer!) and never placed in a fridge. The taste was something I will never forget. Think of fermented apple juice with vinegar added for the hell of it. It was interesting to say the least. Well, at least I can say I've had it. Who knows what the flavor would have been if it was actually stored properly.

It's quite remarkable how the flavors change and how some beers age better than others. It's a guessing game, at its core. It might age well, it might age dreadfully. I might say it has aged gracefully, but you might prefer the beer fresh. Great! Now you know not to age it.

The bottom line is, any beer is good to drink right now, as soon as it leaves the brewery. It is not necessary to age all beers suitable for cellaring if you don't have the patience, or you simply don't want to. If you want your beer now, then drink it.



Cheers!

Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®




Article on beer storage:
http://beeradvocate.com/beer/101/store

Want to know more about... Food and beer pairings?

Greetings!

Good, honest, real food deserves to be enjoyed and praised as an art-form in itself. Compliment the dish with a perfect pairing. No, put the wine list down! Embrace the flavors of a well-cooked meal with a vibrant, effervescent, and flavorful beer. Yes, I said beer!

Beers have such a wide range and verity of flavors that it is my firm belief that beer and wine are equal (if not better!) and deserve to share the dinner table.

Below is an article written by Garrett Oliver, Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery an author of "The Brewmaster's Table." I highly recommend this book to everyone, regardless of where you stand from a beer or wine standpoint. Most of what I've learned regarding beer and food come from his literary works.

Ask as many questions as possible in the comments and I'll get back to every single one of you.



Cheers!
Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®



Follow the link below for a great article on food and beer pairings:
http://allaboutbeer.com/article/matching-beer-food-at-the-brewmasters-table/

Want to know more about... the history of beer?

**First post on new series, "Want to know more about...?" These posts are meant to showcase an aspect in the realm of beer in an educational way.***

Greetings!

In an effort to continue my studies towards Master Cicerone®, it's well known that the best way to learn is to teach. So, I ask you, my readers, to assist me in my venture by asking as many questions as possible. Every single question WILL be answered!

Where should we start? How about at the beginning!
Want to know more about... the history of beer?

Below is a link to a short article about the history of beer. It's a good introduction to an interesting subject that I am straying to get more involved in.

Cheers!!

Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®



Clink on link below for a breif history of beer:
http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-hoppy-history-of-beer

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I Love Beer... My Father.



We all have our reasons to enjoy a beer every now and then. We all have our preferences on styles, tastes, locations to drink, time of day, etc... The list could go on and on. For me, I love the fact that I am able to teach those that want to learn about beer and watch their eyes light up. However, there is one more reason that tops the aforementioned. The one thing I always hold dear to my heart when I drink a beer is the great times I've had with my father while doing so.

Ever since I've began to explore the beer culture, my father was always confused as to why the heck I was purchasing so many expensive beers that tasted terrible (he once said those exact words to me). Nevertheless, as I was trying all these new beers, my father never refused to take a sip and make the same “Holy-hell, what is that!?!” face every time. I still remember the time I had him try the Hallertau Imperial Pilsner from Samuel Adams; he almost lost his lunch and nearly passed out! I laughed so hard that I almost passed out, too. Yet, he still encouraged me to keep learning and exploring.

The best of these times was spent at the Stone Brewing Company Word Bistro and Gardens in Escondido, California. This was the first visit for him and the look on his face was priceless. Sure, I've taken him to breweries before, but none where of this scale or beauty. We ate lunch, took the tour, and enjoyed beers outside in the garden. The conversations we had that day ranged from the all areas in the emotion spectrum. My father was happy, and so was I. What more could I ask for at that instant?

Perhaps that’s why I love Stone Brewing Co. so much and why I hold such strong emotional connection to that place. It wouldn't be out of reach of any of you said that I will be bias towards Stone Brewing Co. because of my experience with it. You know what? I don’t care.

Now that time has passed by from those early days of beer discovery, my father has since become more accepting of the beers I drink. In fact, he has actually acquired a taste for almost any German-style Hefe’s, Bootlegger’s Palomino, Noble Ale Work’s Pistol Whip’d, and even Pliny the Elder to mention a few.

There are many other reasons why I love the beer industry so much. A couple of reasons I have yet to mention because they are not as bright and uplifting as this one, but that’s something I like to keep to myself (only one individual actually knows). Being able to enjoy a beer with him every-so-often is one of the best gifts this industry has ever given me.

Recently, I took my father out on a mini-brew tour. One of out stops was The Bruery. It was an amazing moment when we both had the same vision materialize in our minds the second we took a sip of Salty Weisse: A special moment in time from my childhood. We both said what we were thinking ("¡Yo pimero, Pa!")... Needless to say, we shared a few tears in the tasting room. That's what it's all about, right there!!

I am lucky enough to still have these opportunities to spend time with my father. I need to... Scratch that... I WILL make more time to take my father out to a bar or even in the patio of my home, sit there, enjoy a beer, and just...Talk. I can say with the up-most honesty of my tainted soul that some of the best memories I have of my father have been over a couple of beers.

I cherish these moments. I will miss them when they are gone. Spend time with your friends. Spend time with your family. Enjoy a beer with them. Don’t miss the opportunity while it’s available. It might just bring you closer together, as well.

I don’t say it enough, but I love my “Pops” and I know that he knows that. With watery eyes, I give thanks to the craft beer industry for bringing us even closer together.

My "Pops" and I at the end of his first brewery tour
at Stone Brewing Co. (2011)


Cheers!

-Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®


I've been meaning to post this since Father’s Day, yet I was not able to let it be; I am my own worst critic and changes kept coming. Sometimes, you just need to let go and let the world critique...

Read, Like, Comment, Share.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Tustin Brewing Company Beer Dinner

There are not enough adjectives in this language to describe how I feel being a part of this event. I present to you a the Tustin Brewing Company Beer Dinner. Although my role is minor in the event, I am beyond ecstatic to be involved with such great people (listed at the bottom of the menu and all the staff at TBC). Please check out the links below for more details and don't forget to share. See you there!!!

-Gilbert "Charlie" Perez-



Tustin Brewing Company Website: Click Here!

Tustin Brewing Company FB Event Page: Click Here!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Piña Colada in Beer Form!

“Robert Masterson & Ryan Reschan/Rip Current/Stone R&R Coconut IPA”

*R&R Coconut IPA

*Note: The review found below is based off the daught version of R&R Coconut IPA*

Home brewers Robert Masterson and Ryan Reschan should be feeling pretty damn good about themselves right about now. They took top honors at an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) contest with a Coconut IPA. On top of earning recognition by the AHA, the top honor spoils included the wining homebrew was to be produced at Stone Brewing Company as a special brew. Thus, R&R Coconut IPA was born.


*R&R Coconut IPA
Now, it is nearly impossible to review this beer without comparing it to a collaboration beer brewed by Stone, Aleman and Two Brothers. Yes, the coveted and incredible Dayman Coffee IPA. We all remember Dayman and how the coffee flavors and aromas were not shy at all. In fact, the intense sweet and bitter coffee is holding the hop flavors and aromatics in a headlock as if “Two Brothers” were wrestling in the yard, with the younger of the brother breaking loose every so often to make his hoppy presence known. The moment you put your nose to Dayman, you knew it was a Coffee IPA.

Unlike Dayman, R&R does not have a profound coconut aroma or flavor for that matter. In R&R, we are first greeted with a flurry of tropical fruit-like aromas from the hops. Unless you are aware of the coconut in the beer, the presence of it in the perfume is low at best. No doubt it is a well made IPA with clean hoppy scents tickling your nose. Then, you take a sip…

The initial taste is that of a “Stone” IPA with firm hops, yet not as embracing as the more assertive Stone IPA’s. But wait, there’s something more. Is that the…? Is that…? There it is!! A lovely, soft taste of coconut creeps in ever-so elegantly in the back-palate (aftertaste). It’s as if the coconut sneaked up on the hops and gave them a gentle, coconut-milky kiss before blushing away. Add in a smooth, medium mouthfeel (texture of the actual liquid in your mouth) and you have a solid IPA that embodies what tropical breeze should taste like.

Overall, this is yet another quality collaboration put on by Stone. Robert Masterson and Ryan Reschan deserve a standing ovation for dreaming up such a unique and interesting take on an IPA. Contrasting the previous IPA Stone collaboration, here the special flavor takes a back-seat and only adds yet another layer of complexity to an already impressive flavor profile. Who needs a Piña Coloda when you have R&R Coconut IPA? I suggest grabbing a pint (or two) and enjoy the breeze.

Author's Note:
Contrary to the tasting article above, the bottled version of this beer is quite puzzling. The coconut flavor is hit or miss out of a bottled R&R. Personally, I have had a few bottles from my collection, as well as from other sources, and the end result is actually disappointing. The coconut flavors are subtle at best and are not as "milky" as when I first encountered from the tap; the coconut notes out of the bottle are up-front rather than on the tail-end of the palate. And this is also inconsistent because some bottles of R&R are stingy with the coconut. I've had a couple thus far (also from my collection and from other sources) that have a very little, barely detectable coconut notes. To make things even more confusing, my collection was obtained from the same box, directly from the Stone Company Store in Pasadena, California. Not only were my bottles from the same store, they were obtained from the same box (I watched them open a new box directly taken from the storage cooler and placed into my hands, one by one)! Even though all of my bottles have undergone the exact same treatment, from store to home, there are still inconsistencies in the same batch of bottles. This is a perfect example of unforeseen reactions of a volatile ingredient and the unfortunate differences of a beer "on-tap" compared to its bottled equal. ToE's suggestion is to seek out the draught version while it's available. Otherwise, purchase bottles at your own risk and enjoy as fresh as possible!


Cheers!

-Gilbert “Charlie” Perez-



*These images are property of Stone Brewing Company and can be found in the following locations:
http://www.stonebrewing.com/media/homepage_slideshow/slides/beers/collab/rr/homepage_slide_v1.png
http://www.stonebrewing.com/collab/rr/img/rrcoconut.png

Visit the official Stone Brewing Company R&R Coconut IPA page for this brew for official tasting notes, food parings, and even more information. Enjoy!







Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Other Woman

Imperial Red at Tustin Brewing Company



Who is that Woman? She, who is dressed in deep-red, leering through the glass with a sexy shimmer? The one wearing an off-white cap? What a beautiful red-headed Woman she is.

She wears perfume of citrus, pine, and caramel which teases you with every pass she makes. Her lustful and tempting aroma is impossible to resist... I should resist... I must resist... I failed and gave-in to her will; I could not resist.

She approached my lips... Her bitterness was assertive and she wouldn't let up even after she was gone. Her body was smooth, with a texture of silk, and her curves rolled off the edges of my tongue, ever so gently. She displays a strong malt backbone, as any strong woman should, holding her flavor together quite well. I tried to keep my composure.

It didn't work. I wanted more.

With every pass she made across my lips, she began to undress herself, dissipating more and more from the glass. Her temperature rose higher. The lower I went and the more she undressed, the sweeter and maltier she tasted. It was a flavor unlike the others before her.

She was deceiving... her perception is that of a goddess, yet with her ABV of 8.5%, she was nothing but a fallen angel in disguise. As quickly as she seduced me, she vanished.

I must find her again. I must see her once more. When? Where? How? This must be kept a secret.

She was "The Other Woman." And for a brief moment...

...She was mine!



-Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone®
(Eat your heart out, ladies... This could be you I'm talking about...)

Please visit the Tustin Brewing Company website and Facebook. Also, physically visit and have a pint!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Food & Beer: A Gastronomica/Terms of Enbeerment Collaboration

Food Theme
Mexican-inspired gastropub dishes with Alta California Cuisine Flair
Accompanying Beer Pairing Theme
Readily available Southern California Craft Beers that can be obtained by the average consumer with ease


Presenting the food & beer parings between Gastronomica by Chef Andrea Machuca and Terms of Enbeerment. Below you will find the descriptions of each course, how it was prepared, the beer pairing choice, and the overall impact of the two.

Beer is just as versatile and complementary to a meal as wine is when the affinities are paired up (arguably, beer can be even better!). With the heat of summer, a crisp beer is an obvious choice to pair a wonderful meal with. Terms of Enbeerment and Gastronomica embarked on make this unmistakable combination an unforgettable one.

“A summer dinner party is something quite special. The air is warmer, the grass is brisk and beer just tastes better. Planning this dinner party was a treat. I love cooking! Whether it be in a hot, crowded kitchen or cooking for my family or friends -- It’s my passion! Enjoy this culinary and craft beer collaboration. Cheers!” -Chef Andrea Machuca



**Before Dinner**

Let the fun begin! Here, a table was set up with meats, cheese, and other tasty edibles for the guest to enjoy while mingling. The beers selected to start the evening are simple, flavorful, floral, and crisp. The hop-aromatics of these Czech-style pils add an extra layer of appetizing indulgence.

Various cheeses: Fat Bottom Girl, Saint Agur Bleu and Strawberry Peak Brie.
Meats: Proscuitto di San Danielle and Ghost Pepper Salami.
Beer pairings: Noble Ale Works “Pistol Whip'd” and Firestone-Walker “Pivo Pils.”


Fat Bottom Girl: Raw sheep milk, gently washed rind, traditional rennet, aged at least 2-3 months. Named after the famous song by Queen, “Fat Bottom Girl” is an aged raw sheep milk cheese with a natural rind that is encouraged by regular washings during the two to three month aging process. Each wheel of "Fat Bottom Girl" cheese is lovingly hand crafted with the raw milk from a small flock of sheep that graze hillsides and roam free.

Tasting Notes - Firm ivory paste with subtle flavors of almonds, butter and tangy sweetness.


Strawberry Peak Brie: Wash rind cheese made from cow’s milk. Orange, yellow, and beige rind
Tasting Notes - A sticky and “stinky” rind with a pungent, spirited aroma. The texture can vary from firm to soft and creamy depending on the season.

Saint Agur: Soft, blue-veined cheese made from cow's milk, by Bongrain Cheese Company from the Auvergne region of France.
Tasting Notes - Double-cream blue cheese, decadent and buttery with a hint of spice.

Cheese Accompaniments: Homemade blueberry chocolate soufflé jam, summer berries, dried mulberries, chocolates, and rosemary bread.


Proscuitto di San Danielle: Sweet and succulent Prosciutto from San Daniele del Friuli in Italy. This is one of the finest meats in the Italian culinary tradition. The area of San Daniele has the ideal micro-climatic conditions for producing this Prosciutto. It has a pronounced aroma, and a charming, delicate flavor.

Ghost Pepper Salami: All there is to say is... Heat that lingers! Delicious heat!


**Appetizers**

Local Strawberries
 port, basil, fresh mozzarella + balsamic bourbon reduction
Ritual's Wit's End





















Port soaked Local Strawberry stuffed with fresh mozzarella, wrapped in Prosciutto di San Danielle and topped with basil & balsamic reduction drizzle. Along with the various cheeses, this small plate was tangy and sweet with a bit of freshness. The beer pairing served provided a flavor-hook that combined the balsamic bourbon reduction drizzle with the natural tartness and tanginess of a Witbier. Additionally, the refreshing and spice character of a Belgian-style Wit combined with the fresh basil completed the pairing. An incredible combination!

Beer paring: Ritual Brewing Co. “Wit’s End”


**Dinner**

Pork Belly
Pork belly confit: 36 hour rub consistent of piri piri, pasilla negro, guajillo, rosemary, mayan love, and a medley of other spices. Additionally, a 10 hour chocolate porter bath finished of the flavor infusion. Served with broccolini fried in duck fat and smothered in blackberry chipotle sauce.

Beer pairing: Bootlegger's Brewery “Black Phoenix” and Ballast Point “Sculpin”



For this course, two distanced pairings provide two separate experiences. One beer serves to complement the dish and the other provides the contrast. A Chipotle-Stout with its roasted malts provided a perfect harmony with the caramelized and umami flavors of the pork belly. Add the affinity of the stout beer and sauce containing Chipotle and you have a magical combination! On the contrast, an American IPA displayed its cutting and pallet cleansing power after every bit.


**Dessert**























Horchata Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, Strawberry Bourbon Coulis, Saint Angel Triple Cream Cloud and Strawberry Pearls.

Beer pairing: Stone Brewing Co. “Espresso Imperial Russian Stout”

Desert is a challenging course to pair wine with. That’s fine because beer will take on the task with ease. Here, the Horchata Panna Cotta had plenty of cinnamon, milky, and vanilla-like flavors, yet it was not cloying. The combination of an Imperial Russian Stout’s strong chocolate flavors brings out the cinnamon and vanilla in the Panna Cotta to the front of the palate. The tangy Strwberry Peals and twangy Cream Cloud proved to be no match as the bitterness in the dark roasted coffee flavors in the stout contrasted them both with ease. The flavor dance was a thing of beauty.


**After Dinner**

Alesmith's 2012 Decadence

Time to settle down and relax. Alesmith’s 2012 Decadence is a Belgium-style Quad with lots of dark fruit and spice character. At 12% ABV and intensely impressive flavors, Decadence made for a perfect end-of-dinner beer. Sip, enjoy, and reminisce.




Thank you all for allowing us to share this wonderful experience with you. This was a fun and pleasurable evening where food & beer held center-stage together. We hope you enjoyed reading about our adventure as much as we enjoying writing it.

Bon Appétit and Cheers!

Chef Andrea Machuca, Gastronomica
&
Gilbert "Charlie" Perez, Terms of Enbeerment


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Is My Beer Too Cold?? Don’t Blame the Draught System!



Whether bottled or on draught, the ideal serving temperature of beer is not as concrete as most might think. The temperature varies depending on the style of the particular beer and sometimes the recommendations from the brewer indicated on the bottle. Draught beers are my big cause for concern since we, the consumers, have little to no control as to how the beer is kept and served. Although beers “on tap” are a bit more predictable in terms of temperature, this is not always a good thing. Throw in the mass-produced lagers and (immensely successful) marketing depiction of "ice-cold" beer, and we have a resulting disaster pouring into your glass.

Draft systems are usually designed to a temperature of 38°F. Like any mechanical system, fluid dynamics plays a vital role in the design of the system. On top of this, designers must take into account the carbonation on the fluid flowing though the tubing. In other-words, beer is alive and behaves differently than other fluids. Designers of a draught system should always have the same goal in mind: move the beer from source (the keg) to glass as the brewer intended the product to be presented to the customer. This means that "balance" is the most important aspect on the design of a draft system.

What is balance? In a nutshell, the short answer is: pressure is used to move beer from a keg using a gas (usually CO2 or a blend of CO2 and Nitrogen) to move the beer from the keg and replacing the outgoing fluid with gas while maintaining a flow of about 2 oz per second (or one gallon per minute) at any point in the draught system. Temperature affects the flow-rate of any liquid and beer is no different. This is why a standard of 38°F is established by The Brewer Association (see link below). There is a vast amount of engineering that goes into complex systems (such as those found at The Yard House, for example), but the end-goal is the same. Balance, balance, balance.

So why is this important, you ask? Well, failure to maintain proper balance will cause excessive foaming and ultimately loss of product that should end up in the customer’s glass. In other words, loss of beer! However, when proper balance is maintained, the beer arriving to the customer is around 40°F. This might be acceptable for some styles, but not ideal for the mass-produced Lager. So, most establishments that have a mass-produced lager as their main seller will have the cooler temperature ramped down to 32°F or below! Thus, the balance integrity of the system-design is compromised.

Have any of you ever gone to a sports bar and ordered a beer from their draught system? If you have, nine times out of ten the beer will arrive in a frosted mug and the beer itself will be borderline frozen. No head presence in you beer and an absolute lack of flavor.

Ice-cold beer (or any beverage, for that matter) will numb your tongue, rendering your taste-buds useless. A good example to use are the Hooters restaurants. Most of them proudly display the temperature of the beer cooler at 32°F or below!! Now, this is ideal for dousing the heat from their famous hot wings. However, this doesn't do any favors to the beers they serve. Especially now since most of the Hooters franchises are finally catching on to the thirst most Americans have for the Craft Beer Industry. Unfortunately, all beers are (for the most part) are kept in the same walk-in fridge. End result? Over foaming pour into a frosted mug leading to flat, way-too-cold, flavor-altered craft beer. Why? Draught system is not in balance.

Author's Note: I have nothing against Hooters (in fact, I love their wings!). I am simply using them as recognizable example to prove my point.

Now for most ales, the ideal serving temperature is between 45°F and 55°F. Lager beers are ideally served at slightly cooler temperatures, depending on region and type of lager beer. Personal preference comes into play, naturally. There are various exceptions and deciding factors for serving temperature, but this is a basic catch-all temperature range. Just like with most foods, you want to eat them warm because they do not taste the same when cold. The same is with beer: the warmer it gets, the more flavor that is released. The obvious exceptions are the mass-produced, light tasting lagers. Have you ever had a mass-produced lager after it has warmed up? The vast majority of them taste like crap outside of 38°F (+/-). Now you know why they are advertised to be served as cold as possible. Throw in the numbing of taste-buds and heat dousing purpose of having a cold beverage and you know why "the colder the better" method is used for some establishment.

My recommendations are few and simple:

1) Ask your server for a chilled glass, not a "frosted" glass. A glass kept in a cooler is less likely to have frost deposits than a frozen glass; all that "frost" ends up in your beer, altering the flavor. Plus, this makes it difficult to assess the temperature of the beer in the glass. You want the glass to be as cold as the beer, not frozen.

2) Most of us don't carry a drop-in thermometer (hell, I don't). Knowing a draught system is typically at 38°F (sometimes even colder and it might be displayed), the temperature will be too cold for the beer style you ordered. Let it sit for a few minutes before you begin enjoying your brew.

Of course, these are mere recommendations and every person has his or her own preferences. Hell, I have been known to have an American Adjunct Lager while having some hot-wings. Why not? It’s a great combo when I’m focused on watching a game and having some bar-food. However, in other appropriate settings, temperature is important. Maintenance and stability of a draught system will ensure quality in your glass before it even reaches your lips. The bottom-line and profit margin of some establishments may cause for alternate decisions to be made, affecting the draught system. If so, just remember 45°F to 55°F is ideal and will capture most styles nicely, and slightly colder for most lagers. Let the beer sit for a bit, and then enjoy!



Cheers!

-Gilbert “Charlie” Perez, Certified Cicerone® 

(For more information about draught systems, their maintenance, and the affects they have on beer, please visit DraughtQuility.org, a website by the Brewers Association)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Germany: A Life-Changing Experience




I recently returned from a trip that was three years in the making. I spent most of my time in the state of Bavaria and explored the beautiful architecture, culture, and pride of the people of Bayern (Bavaria). From the country side of Aying to the history rich town of Bamberg, the beauty of Bavaria is nothing I have ever experienced before. And, let us not forget the amazing beer that Bavaria has to offer!






If you are a beer enthusiast/geek/nerd (if you are reading this, there is a 95% chance you are) like me, then you should be well-aware of how serious Germans take their beer. They even have laws on what ingredients can be used! There are only a handful of countries in the world that come close to passion and quality that Germany adheres to (Czech and Belgium come to mind).

I experienced an incredible beer epiphany in Germany. I can still remember the complex Rauchbier with its smoky flavor yet easy to drink, the refreshing Weissbier for breakfast with some fresh-backed pretzels and Weisswurst, or the crisp and bitter Pils bursting with perfumy noble hop character. These beers showed me what tradition is all about.



Although most beers are widely available in the States, there is nothing like having a beer at its origin. The freshness and quality of all the beers completely took me by surprise. I never imagined just how different and delicious these beers truly are. Simply amazing!

The travel bug has bit me deep and has latched on pretty tightly. Planning to places like Czech, Belgium, and Ireland (and of course, a return trip to Germany) is no longer out of the question. In fact, a voyage to Czech (Prague and Pilsen, to be exact) and/or Belgium will most likely be my next European adventure. I've never been much of a traveler besides road trips. But now that I have a purpose, the mere thought of going to different regions excites me!

I could go on and on, but pictures are worth a thousand words and speak volumes to what I experienced. Below are some of the pictures I took during my journey and beer exploration. Enjoy the pictures while I go grab a beer. See you in a while...





Ayinger


A short train ride south of Munich, is the tiny town of Aying. Green fields, fresh air, quite, and (of course) a brewery. What else would you want?


After a 2 minute walk from the Aying train station,
off in the distance is the Ayinger brewery.
My tour guide pouring unfiltered
Jahrhundert Bier direct from the Fermenter!
















One of many murals adorning the brewery.


The Bavarian and Ayinger flags welcome you
as you walk up to the visitors center.
Crisp and refreshing. The Lager Hell, Helles beer.









Tasting room and private banquet hall at Ayinger.
Yes, it is above the brewhouse!




















Hops. Just some gorgeous, Bavarian Noble hops.




Young brewer at Ayinger verifying the
Original Gravity (sugar content) of wort (unfermented beer).
Lots and lots of antique mugs.


At the bigining of the tour, a fountain lets
participants taste the well-water used for brewing.











The Tasting Room bar area with all Ayinger beers
available for tasting.




Erdinger


To the north-east of Munich and surrounded by farmland, the town of Erding holds grounds for the famous Erdinger Weissbräu brewery. This brewery visit was by far the most pleasant of the three simply because of the hospitality. The tour itself was nothing special, however the tasting room and generosity of the facility during the tasting made this a memorable experience! Not only were we allowed to taste all that was at hand, but we were also given fresh-baked pretzels and sausages to accompany our weissbiers. Some of their most recognizable product are on display below as well as some Germany-only specialties.

Welcome to Erdinger!
Erdinger flag, German flag, and Bavarian flag
greet you in the welcome center.











As you approach the welcome center, countless flags
from around the world catch your eyes.


The welcome center. Gifts, gifts, and more gifts.
I raided this place (rightfully so!).



View of the brewhous from the second floor.


Mural at the beginning of the tour.

Germany exclusive, Weißbier Leicht.
Literally a light Hefeweizen at only 3%ABV!
Another view of the shinny stainless-steel brewhouse.
Also exclusive to Germany, Champ is
meant to be drunk directly from the bottle.

Dunkelweizen (Dark wheat)

Pikantus Weizenbock
A robust flavored dark wheat at a generous 8%ABV.
The original Urweisse is the only one of
Erdinger's brews that uses a different yeast strain
The welcome signs as you approach the Tasting Room.
The Erdinger Tasting Room
The original well for Erdinger's brewing water
is still in use today.
Entrence to the brewhouse direct from the Tasting Room.




Weihenstephaner

On my final full day in Germany, I had the honor of visiting a piece of brewing history: The Weihenstephaner Brewery... The oldest active brewery in the world! They have been a brewing beer officially since the year 1040. The brewery itself has burned down three times and each time has been rebuilt to continue the art. To add even more prestige to Weihenstephaner, the brewery is now part of a vast complex of buildings that make up the Life and Food Sciences branch of Technical University, Munich (in fact, as early back as 1803, the grounds have been used for agriculture study and brewing sciences). How would you like to earn your Masters of Science degree in brewing learning the ropes in the oldest brewery in the world?


Point the way, please.
This was the sign outside the administration building,
where the tours start.
The tour begins...
The brewhouse at Weihenstephaner
Mural inside the brewhous. One of many.
Painted on the wall of the brewhouse.
The coned bottoms of 8 giant fermenters.
This was one of 3 rooms like this.

With the tour concluded, it was time to grab a bite...
and a beer, of course.

Golden, crisp, refreshing, hoppy.
A German Pils at its absolute best!
A sweet dunkelweizen with some pork ribs.




Perfect weather for an afternoon at the biergarten.
Just in case you forgot where you were enjoying your beer.







The Biergarten even has some cleverly named
water dishes for mans-best-friend. Loved this minor detail!




Paulaner

Founded by munks in the 1600's, this brewery is named after the their order of Saint Francis of Paola. These monks famosly brewed a strong beer that is now known as the style Doppelbock which served the Friars as "liquid-bread" while they were fasting. Paulaner holds the rights to the term Savator, which means "savior" in German (it goes without saying as to why these monks refereed to their beer as a savior). 

Although I was not able to take a tour at this brewery, there were plenty of venues throughout Munich that was sponsored by Paulaner. Most of the pictured I chose are from what I thought was the best restaurant I found that served Paulaner exclusively. Not only were the beers amazing, the staff was friendly and helpful. Paulaner im Tal is a great establishment.


Taken at the Munich Airport, from a
self-serve draught system. How cool is that!?
The signature medallion adorning the daught tower
at Paulaner im Tal.
The typical draught system display. Beautiful shiny copper.
Salvator. What a great way to end the day.













Their Munich Dunkel was a nice, sweet, and crisp
lagered beer with a nice bready note.



Helles Lager
A smooth, balanced beer to wash your troubles away.




Schneider & Sohn’s

Almost accross the street from Paulaner im Tal, you'll find this gem called Weisses Brauhaus. Here, the showcase beers are from Schneider & Sohn's. With great service, friendly staff, and prime location, I found myself coming back here twice to try more fresh, high quality wiessbire!

The most famous of their brews is a Weizenbock named Aventinus. This beer has been renowned as the best interpretation of the style (in my eyes, it is THE best interpretation). You can imagine my excitement when I realized I could have the best Weizenbock in the world, fresh "vom Fass" (on tap, literal translation is "from the barrel").







Tap 2: Mein Kristal
Filtered Hefeweizen with a creamy-smooth texture.
Tap 4: Mein Günes.
A hoppy Hefe with tangy, refreshing wheat bite.






















Tap 5: Schneider & Brooklyner Hopfen-Weisse.
Essentially a Hefeweizen and an
East Coast IPA in one glass!


Tap 6: Unser Aventinus, fresh on draught!
Simply amazing with complex dark fruit
and warming character.

Aventinus Eisbock, a 12%ABV god-in-a-glass.
Ripe plums and banana aroma, tastes like heaven!

Above the entrance, the Schneider logo. 
This beer is so amazing that it has its own window!





Aecht

I kept hearing about some amazing smoked beers to the north of Munich so I traveled north to Bamberg to see what all the fuss was about. I was not disappointed. There were two breweries that stood out. Aecht and Spezial.

First, I stopped by the restaurant run by Aecht. It was a busy place! Unfortunately, I was unable to get a table and have some food here. However, I was able to have a beer! There is a beer pick-up window for you to enjoy a beer outside while you wait for a table, of simply if you wish to have a pint and stand outside. Now, I have had Aecht Rauchbier's before so I didn't think anything of it. Boy was I wrong....



Relaxing outside, enjoying my Rauchbier
with many other explorers.

Aecht Rauchbier Märzen
Smoky, yet not overpowering.




Spezial

Here was a nice surprise. After I finished my pint at Aecht and after a short walk, I stumbled upon a brewery I have never heard about. The sign read "Brauerei Spezial" and I was intrigued. I am so happy I found this place. The smoked beers were amazing, the food was great, and the atmosphere threw me back a century or two.


The golden lettering of the best surprise of my entire trip.



Yes, I took a few.
This was the simply called Rauchbier Lager
Amazingly crisp, smoky character
was soft and pleasant.


I have no idea what I ordered. All I know is
that is was amazing!!
This unfiltered beer named Ungespundetes
was full of sweet, tangy, and malt flavors.
No smoke, and no problem!

The dining room at Brauerei Spezial




Augustiner

This is the oldest, still independent brewery in the city of Munich. The brewery has many great beers and is quite uncommon in the States. And, as with many imported beers, when they do make it here, they are not as the brewer intended. Not only were these beers delicious, they are found everywhere in Munich in many beer-halls dedicated to serving only Augustiner. Good thing because I found craving some almost every day I was there.

In my opinion, the best example of a German Pils.
Bitter from start to finish, pleasant noble hop character,
yet refreshing and crisp. One of the best beers I had.


Plate of small sausages and sauerkraut alongside
the Augustiner Weissbier.

Holzfällersteak with grilled onion, potatoes,
and an Augustiner Dunkel.







Hofbräuhaus

Alas, it was my 30th birthday. I made my way though the bending streets of central Munich to end up at the most visited and talked about beer-hall in the world: The Hafbräuhaus! I know this is a tourist attraction and that authentic, traditional beer-halls have better beer (see above), but this was a turning point in my life. I was now entering 30 years on this planet and I wanted to experience something special. So, there was no way in hell that I was not going to visit the Hofbräuhaus... On my Birthday!


...I tuned the corner and there it was...






Cask was empty that day. Shame.
A pint of their summer beer.
An unfiltered lager. Tasty stuff!















What's a visit to the original Hofbräuhaus without
getting a giant beer!? Dunkel, bitte!


Some pretzels, a brawurst, sauerkraut, and
Original Helles Lager. Perfect!




One of many posts full of giant glassware.






An experience worth traveling for.

The entrance to one of the best birthdays I've ever had.




So, did you enjoy the pictures? Feel like taking your own beer-&-self-finding trip to Germany? I would highly recommend it! Like I've said before, this was an experience that I will soon not forget. My next expedition to Czech and/or Belgium will surely hold its own, but no matter how incredible my future adventures may be, my first trip will always have a special place in my heart.

Until next time, Prost!





















-Gilbert “Charlie” Perez