Thursday, September 25, 2014

Brasserie Cantillon Zwanze Day at Crooked Stave Barrel-aging Taproom

September 20 was Zwanze Day! This year it was held at Crooked Stave Cellar taproom. The festivities started early in the morning with the line going around the building. We were lucky that a friend held a space for us. While waiting for the brewery to open, the beers were flowing outside with everyone bring something to share.  We were in the presence of one of the largest bottle shares of beers from all over the world. 

Cantillon Brewing makes Lambics which can be categorized as sour ales with some being more than others. I have noticed that over the years sour ales have become too popular for my own liking which if you ever tried to get tickets to the Avery Brewing Sour fest will know why. But today was a good day to be apart of this crowd of sour ale enthusiasts.

Zwanze Day is when Cantillon Brewery in Brussels sends kegs of their delicious beers all over the world and is to be poured on the same day at same time. Zwanze translates to "Foolish" in Flemish and is a one-off beer that can only be tasted on this day.

At 11:00 am, the line started to move towards the entrance of the brewery. As we walked along the side of the building there were reminisce of employ bottles lined up against the wall.  The staff of Crooked Stave came around asking for Id's then banking us as legal to precede to on our way to the next step. The end of the line under a tent was where we exchanged tender $20 for our "golden ticket" of a commemorative glass, one pour of Zwanze beer, and one pour of any other Cantillon beer on tap. If you weren't on time to be one of the 150, your ticket was for a glass and a pour of the non-Zwanze Cantillon on tap.

Crooked Stave beers were available at the taproom but the Cantillon beers were being poured in a portable tap system in the barrel room. There were two lines, one for Saint Lamvinus because it was pouring foamy  and the other for the rest of the Cantillon line-up. 
Inside the Crooked Stave taproom.

Line for the Cantillon beers on tap in barrel room.

The beers on tap:
Cantillon Gueuze- is a blend of Lambics of different ages and with different taste.
Cantillon Iris-Grand Cru, an unblended Lambic that was hopped with dried and fresh hops. 
Cantillon St. Gilloise- a gueuze made with 2-year old Lambics.
Cantillon St. Lamvinus- is a rare beer, this one was made with grapes(Merlot and Cabernet-franc varieties) soaked in Bordeaux barrels containing two to three years old Lambics. 
Tilquin Gueuze- a gueuze from Tilquin Brewery in Belgium.

Cantillon Iris!

Cantillon St. Lamvinus!

The Zwanze beer was Cuvee Florian, is a blend of Iris and Kriek where 40% of the fruit Lambic is blended with the Grand Cru. It was cold hopped with the delicate Bramling Cross hops which produced  a touch of bitterness that balanced the beers flavors and bouquet. 

The Zwanze Day beer being tapped with
Chad Yakobson punching our cards.

Cantillon Zwanze Day beer!

At one o’clock, Chad Yakobson, owner/brewer of Crooked Stave, climbed onto one of his barrels and we raised our glasses of beer to the Cantillon Zwanze Day! What a glorious day for drinking Cantillon beer!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Birds and Beer at Barrel and Bottles Brewery in Golden

I bet you weren't expecting beer and birds as a pairing, so to speak but they melded together as a very informative evening. This event was organized by Barley's Angels CO and hosted by Barrel and Bottles Brewery.
Deborah Cameron, founder of Barley's Angels CO
talking about future events. 

Sheridan Samano, a Barley's Angel member is also an avid birder thought this would be an excellent venue to combine her two interests. She coordinated the non-profit group, Hawkquest  to be the key spokesperson at this event. Hawkquest is located in Parker, CO and is one of the largest organization of this type in 5 States.

Kin Quitugua

Kin Quitugua, master falconer and environmental educator founded Hawkquest in 1987.  Mr. Quitugua was on hand with his 2 staff members who handled the birds. He explained about each of the 4 Raptors we were privileged to see up close.

He brought 4 birds of prey; Harris Hawk, they live in colonies and hunt together which is very unusual for hawks and its a matriarchal society. A Grey Horned Owl, it doesn't have horns or what looks like ears, they're just feathers. Their neck has more vertebrae in which it can rotate it's head 270 degrees.  Aplomado Hawk which is an endangered species.  An then last but not least, the Bald Eagle. They're not really bald but the settlers to America back in the day referred to white headed as bald so the name stuck.

Now on to the beer. For this event we were given a free 11 ounce pour of Barrels and Bottles beer and two tasters plus appetizers to munch on.  The Barrels and Bottles tap list is full of wonderful beers and their own beers which there were 5, covers many styles to cover most beer lovers palate. I had the "Go Wit It" Extra Wit, a cloudy Belgian-style ale brewed with spices, citrus and mango juice post-fermentation. It's a very nice session beer at 3.8% ABV.  I also tried the Pixie Stout, French oaked-aged and hopped with Pacific Gem hops.  It's a little bit higher in alcohol than most stouts at 6.3% ABV.  Kim Collins, head brewer at Barrels and Bottles is always trying something new like  M* A*S*H*ed Hot Lips, a sour mash Blonde Ale that is only 3.7% ABV.  Kim likes brewing session beers but brews them with lots of flavor.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beer Bloggers Conference 2014: The Beers

Beer Bloggers Conference

One of the true perks for attending the Beer Bloggers Conference is the wide range of beer tastings that goes on throughout the conference.  It blows my mind how many breweries are in California that I've never had their beers. In general, Green Flash, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas Brewing, and Stone Brewing are the major players but there are so many others.

 I’m not an IPA hop head but the Green Flash White IPA which is part of the Odyssey limited release series is quite good and not bitterly hopped with grapefruit notes that balanced the beer. Another one in this series that was surprisingly good was the Citra Session IPA. 

This was also the new breweries to add to my "need to go next time in San Diego" list.  What was really cool was that the brewers were pouring beers from Belching Beaver and New English Brewing. It was a treat to be able to taste their beers. Belching Beaver Peanut Butter Milk Stout is a silver medal winner. It's in the normal range of a stout at 5.3% ABV. and it's quite tasty but a little on the sweet side.

I really enjoyed New English Brewing, Zumbar Imperial Stout. It's made with 50 pounds of coffee and chocolate. This is a collaboration between the brewery and San Diego boutique coffee roaster. It's 9.3%ABV but doesn't taste that high in alcohol. The coffee notes are more pronounced than the chocolate but isn't overwhelming. 

Lagunitas Brewing hosted a party for the conference and brought beers that were amazing. Beer stations were along the four walls of the room that was dark with blue and purple lights which made for a party atmosphere.

The guys at Lagunitas out did themselves with setting up the party. The Lagunitas gang had another vaporizer station where you could smell different hops. Twitter posts were seen on a screen along with video of "I went Couch Trippin' with Lagunitas". But of course it was the beers that stand out the most.

Lagunitas Brewing brought some aged bottles of Gnarly Barleywine and an Imperial Stout,  Ruben and the Jets. The Ruben and the Jets is a tribute to the actual 1970's rock band. The Imperial Stout was so delicious. It was smooth but still a little boozy, yum yum.

Rogue Brewing had a table of some beers from their Rogue Farm series, like the Marionberry Braggot. It was one of those sweet tart beers with a nice fruit flavor.

Goose Island brought a few of their beers for us to drink. Bourbon County Coffee and The Muddy, an Imperial Stout both of these beers were very good. I've had the Bourbon County Stout but the Bourbon Coffee was like having a shot in the morning!

One of the other attendees Firkin Ron brought some beer for the unofficial bottle share from Beach City Brewing. He gave us a taste of the Belgian Triple aged in Tequila barrels, it was really tasty.

On Saturday the beers that stand out were from Stone Brewing. We piled into a bus that had two stripper poles but no one in my group got that wasted to pole dance. Stone Bistro & Garden in San Diego is huge but we had our beer and food in the central patio.

Appetizers with the
Imperial Hefeweizen

I must say that I have never been a real Stone Brewing fan but they changed my mind again. I am a beer geek in training.  So one of the beers that was over the top, was an Imperial Hefeweizen called Call It What You Want. It was brewed in the pina colada style (?) with pineapple and coconut. At the same station was the Witty Moron, a Black Wit bier.

At the Research and Small Batch station was a sweet tart beer on cask, Stone Cali-Belgique IPA with Montmorency sour cherries and Marionberries. This was one of my favorite beers of the day.
Steve Gonzales, small batch brewer

The last beer I had at the Stone Bistro & Garden was the Stone Wootstout 2.0, it was brewed with cocoa, pecans, wheat & rye, then 1/4 was aged in Bourbon barrels.

Brewland Film: America's Craft Beer Documentary

As the title insinuates, Brewland is a feature length comprehensive documentary about the craft beer industry and culture.  The film is an exploration of the industry "struggling to define it's identity" and through it's history show the evolution from the beginning to present day the challenges of the craft brewer to the future of the brewing world. Brewland will have the opinions from the leaders in the industry that includes the brewers, businesses, and the community where the brewery resides.

Michael Sills is a Boston based independent producer/director of this film who needs our help to make this happen. He is raising money through IndieGoGo page to fund the film,

The film company with be traveling to many locations that the craft brewing industry is most present: Colorado; Durham, North Carolina; Washington D.C., Austin, Texas; San Diego, California; and Seattle, Washington. These various locations add to the full history of the craft brewing revolution.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cooper Kettle Brewing and Voodoo Doughnuts beer and food pairing

Cooper Kettle Brewing and Voodoo Doughnuts came together for a beer and food pairing. You wouldn't think of combining beer with doughnuts but it works. This event was the brainchild of Deborah Cameron, founder of the Barley's Angels Colorado. Deborah likes to mix things up and see how they pair. It was a surprise how the right style of beer pairs well with doughnuts.

Cooper Kettle Brewing has an event room which made this event really nice. We didn't have to contend with the added noise of the taproom. Cooper Kettle Brewing's Office Manager/co-owner Kristen Kozik was on-site to explain the pairings, there wasn't a representative from Voodoo Doughnuts. Kristen explained through an email interview that they do many food pairings with their beers so the pairing of the donuts wasn't very difficult. "It's how the taste of the beer compliments or contrasts the flavor of the food in your mouth and sometimes the pairings will surprise you as it may change the initial flavor of the doughnut once you pair it with a certain beer," Kristen wrote.
Kristin Kozik in their cold room
The brewery is three years old and they have expanded to a 15-barrel system and they have a staff of nine people.

The pairing consisted of one large taster of beer and a quarter piece of doughnut which was just enough to compare flavors.

The first beer was the Summer Ale- Dangerous Dan Pale Ale which is a hybrid that has 60% wheat and the spices that was used in the beer were from a local shop, Savory Spice. This beer is 6.0% ABV has a nice wheat taste with the pale ale hoppiness, it went well with the Tangfastic doughnut. The doughnut was a plain cake doughnut with vanilla frosting, tang, and marshmallows.

Second beer was Charlie's Golden Strong Ale, a 8.0% ABV beer with tropical fruit flavors that were 100% from the yeast. It was paired with Captain My Captain, a cake doughnut with Captain Crunch cereal on top. The doughnut was very sweet so the beer cut through that very well and the fruit flavors complimented each other.

The last pairing was with Cooper Kettle's award winning Mexican Chocolate Stout, a very spicy and hot peppery beer that is 7.0% ABV. The stout is brewed with 100% dark chocolate nibs, the raw bark form of cinnamon, and 3 different chili peppers. It has a very hot spicy feel in your mouth that I don't enjoy. The doughnut was Mexican Hot Chocolate, a chocolate cake doughnut that is dusted with cinnamon sugar and cayenne pepper. Out of the two, I liked the doughnut better. I think the beer should have been paired with a doughnut that was more of a contrast so it would dampen the chili cinnamon hotness of the Mexican Chocolate Stout.

The evening as always was fun and informative with guest speaker, Mark, The Denver Beer Guy. If you twitter then you probably have seen his tweets/re-tweets about beer. That night he was speaking to us about the trends in the beer industry. The popularity of craft beer grew 18% in 2014. There are 2000 breweries slated for opening around the country by the end of 2014. Mark told us that the definition of craft beer changed to allow adjuncts like corn and rice. And even though beer consumption is down 2%, craft beer is up 17%!
Mark, The Denver Beer Guy

He asked us what we thought were the future trends in beer styles and we were all on target. Sour Ales are very popular now and many breweries are now trying their hands to make these. Session beers, those that are 5% ABV and below, is another popular trend in beer. Then there's collaborations between breweries that has become more popular, it's such a trend that Sierra Nevada put their Beer Camp collaborations on tour this year. And The Beer Guy also stated, Native Ales were a new trend, until he explained it, I had no idea what that was. Native Ales are an whole American beer that is brewed with totally American ingredients such as hops, grains, and yeast.

Kristin gave us a tour of the brewing facility.  The brewery has an impressive brew house even though they are relatively small. The space is packed with brewing equipment.

The Brew House

The barrels for aging beer.
Thanks again to Deborah Cameron for this event and to Cooper Kettle Brewing for providing the space for the event and the beer. Thanks also to Voodoo Donuts for creating such outrageous doughnuts.

Beer Bloggers Conference 2014 in San Diego

Beer Bloggers Conference

This years Beer Bloggers Conference was in San Diego at the Marriott Hotel. I was nervous at first since I would be attending this conference with known beer bloggers and this was my first. But the attendees were very friendly and with the beers flowing it was easy to mingle.

I believe that the conference is worth the cost of attending even with the separate cost of the room and flight. There is two days of beers, food, panels, seminars, and more beer.  I was treated to breweries located in South California and to beers not distributed outside of the state. 

Lagunitas Brewing Co and Stone Brewing Co, are both known throughout the states but they poured beer for the conference that you could only get at the brewery.  The guys at Lagunitas Brewing provided a party for the conference with beer, dessert, live music, video op on a couch, and announce the release of Born Yesterday Pale Ale first at the conference.

Ken Grossman
The big names in brewing were there for panel sessions. I met Ken Grossman, founder of Sierra Nevada, I sat at his table during our lunch excursion at the Yard House. he spoke later that day about the history of his brewery. There was a panel of Tomme Arthur, founder of Lost Abbey brewing; Chuck Silva, brewer of Green Flash; and Peter Zien, founder of Alesmith Brewing. They spoke about the history of the San Diego brewing scene.  David Walker co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing was at the Beer Social. 

Panel with Tomme Arthur, Chuck Silva,
and Peter Zien.

I attended two seminars or break sessions, one was about photography in blogging and the other was videography in blogs with Alan Kropf who is the Director of Education at Anchor Distilling Co and founder of Mutineer Magazine. It was very interesting and educational, it made me realize that I need to step up my game in photography.

There was food and beer pairings at Karl Strauss Brewpub, The Yard House, and Stone Brewing Bistro & Garden in San Diego.  The transportation to all outside excursions was provided by Zephyr Adventures.

All in all, it was a wonderful weekend that I will definitely do again next year.