Archive for the ‘Beerventures’ Category

August, 2009 Tasting

Yeah I ‘ve been lagging in updating the blog, but here is a quick update about the August tasting. Although the theme was Imperial Stouts, we had to switch it up a bit to not overload the palate with all that sweet gooey thickness. We started with a run of the mill pasteurized lager fresh of the plane from Belarus, followed by a mystery homebrew from the back of my fridge. An excellent Berliner Weisse from Dogfish Head, Festina Peach, finished up the introduction. Next we went into the stouts starting with Rogue’s Chocolate Stout and then getting really into it with Deschutes Black Butte XXI and Alesmith Speedway Stout. Check out the tasting chart for ratings and the rest of the beers tasted through the night. Any theme suggestions for the next tasting?


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After having a great time at the Double IPA festival a few months back Carlos and I ventured back to Hayward’s beer mecca, The Bistro, for their 12th annual IPA Festival. 62 taps of pure hop annihilation. Naturally we had to come up with a strategy. We decided not to get any beers we had tried before so that eliminated a large portion of the list. From what we had the standouts were: Russian River Hopfather, which debuted at this fest, Kern River Just Outstanding IPA, Speakeasy Midnight Run IBA, and Fat Heads Head Hunter IPA. The surprise and the winner of the event was the Fat Heads IPA that traveled by FedEx from Ohio, out of all places. The place got really crowded and hot by 1pm so it was good we came early. Too bad they didn’t block off the whole block like before.

A little more on the Hopfather, stolen from the Bottoms Up Blog: The Hopfather is a 7% IPA that’s loosely based on an IPA recipe Vinnie Cilurzo contributed to Sam Calagione’s book Extreme Brewing, though Cilurzo says he’s changed things up considerably. It starts with CTZ and Magnum hops, but uses primarily Amarillo and Centennial for flavor and aroma to the tune of around 10 pounds per barrel. While Vinnie assures me it will have a big malt backbone, he also promises the flavors and aroma will be “balls to the wall hops.”

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Oh yes another beer dinner. This one took place on Sunday August 9, 2009 at the one and only Toronado.  From about 11:30 to 4:00 Toronado closes its doors to the public and pretends its a classy restaurant. I wish I took a picture it was a very different look for dark and loud pub, but to get a sense of it, here is a photo from one of their past dinners, which I stole from the Brookston Beer Bulletin.

Stolen from Toronado’s website, this was a 6 course meal highlighting local ranchers, farmers, food and drink artisans. Major sourcing within 200 miles.  Paired with 15 local craft brews including a Lagunitas Zappa beer, Firestone Walker Double Double Barrel, Magnolia Cask Aerodrome, 2 Russian River Sours, special releases from Sierra Nevada and many more.

The food was prepared by chefs Mellissa Axelrod of Melissa Claire’s Kitchen and Christian Spybrook of SF Foodshed who is also a bartender at Toronado.

After four delicious courses I couldn’t move, but after a bit of a break and a short walk I ventured back in to finish the remaining two courses and six beers. I can’t imagine how people finish Toronado’s Belgian dinners that have up to 14 courses and even more beer.   Some highlights included SF Cioppino, a pate plate with pork, rabbit, duck, and the caramel tart dessert. The full menu is in the blurry photo to the side, click for a larger view.

A real treat came during the break between the main course and the dessert. As palate cleanser we were offered Firestone Walkers first ever sour beer made with olallieberries, don’t ask me what they are, here is a wikipedia article. An awesome beer to say the least, really reminded me of Russian River’s Consecration, only lighter on the body and color.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next beer dinner Toronado hosts, especially the one featuring Belgian beers.

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While planning a trip to Las Vegas for Kseniya’s birthday, I was secretly scavenging through beeradvocate.com for places to find good beer in Vegas. Options were slim, but I did stumble upon a couple gems. On the strip, the Burger Bar seems to have the best selection on draft and in bottles, heavy on the belgians, but a bit overpriced. Their Kobe burgers were pretty awesome as well.  The real surprise was Rosemary’s Restaurant.  Located about 6 miles off the strip on Sahara Ave, you would never think that Nevada’s beer haven was situated in an unassuming roadside plaza.  Take a look at their beer list.

We opted for the Chef’s Selection 6 course meal paired with 6 beers. I remember having a spicy salmon tartare paired with Duvel, lamb paired with a thick Doppelbock , and the desert paired with Lindeman’s Kriek (the only photo we took). Everything paired beautifully and you can tell the chef knew what he/she was doing. It was great to see each beer served in its appropriate brewery glass – tells you the restaurant really cares and understands beer. It definitely wasn’t cheap, but the experience was worth every penny.

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On July 20, 2009 Kseniya and I attended a dinner presented by the Beer Chef, Bruce Paton, at the Cathedral Hill Hotel featuring the beers of Lagunitas Brewing Company.  And it was awesome! By some stroke of luck we ended up at the table with the chef himself – no I’m not lying, look at the photo.  Before every course Bruce and a Lagunitas brewer, whose name slips my mind, would introduce each course and tell a story about the beer we were drinking.  At $75 a pop for a five course meal may seem a bit much, but once you factor in the never ending hoppy goodness from one of my favorite breweries and the amazing hors d’oeuvres (mountains of lambshanks and deviled eggs with kobe beef, anyone?) this was one hell of a deal. I won’t embarrass myself trying to describe the dinner so take it from the chef himself, recently posted on the Buttoms Up Blog:

We started the evening with Czech Style Pilsner and a selection of passed hors d’oeuvre. Lagunitas’ version is a little hoppier than the traditional but still light and refreshing. The first course of Seared Royal Sweet Scallop, Grapefruit Beurre Blanc, California Osetra Caviar was paired with A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, a very flavorful Pale Ale with a little wheat in the grain bill. The second course was Crispy Marin Sun Farms Pork Belly, Confit of Heirloom Tomatoes, Sausalito Springs Cress matched with Hop Stoopid that is basically a double IPA. The entrée highlighted Lucky 13, a highly hopped red ale, served with Lamb Osso Buco, Mascarpone Soft Polenta, Wilted Greens. The evening ended with a Chocolate Fantasy consisting of Flourless Chocolate Cake, a Parfait of Two Chocolate Mousses topped with a Vanilla Infused Bing Cherry. Yum.

The full menu can be found here.  The next dinner promises to be just as fun if not even better as it will feature another favorite, Russian River Brewing Company. It will take place on September 18 – for more info visit the Beer Chef’s website.

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Lots of good beer was consumed at the last two tastings.  While June had no particular theme, the July tasting centered around hoppy beers. There were hoppy imperial reds, double IPAs, and even a couple black IPAs.

Tasting charts can be found below.  For the August tasting the tentative theme is Russian Imperial Stouts and will include tasty brews like: Port’s Older Viscosity Bourbon Barrel and Santa’s Little Helper also in bourbon. Black Butte XXII will make an appearance and couple others from the cellar.

June 19, 2009 Tasting Chart

July 24, 2009 Tasting Chart

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On May 22th, 2009 we got together to taste and rate several craft beers.  The plan is to do a monthly tasting tentatively scheduled for the 3rd Friday of each month. There was no specific theme this time, although in the future we should limit the tasting to a particular style or region. Everyone kept a score sheet for the beers they taste which you can see here.

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