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)