Thursday, October 20, 2016

Volunteering at the 2016 GABF

GABF week has come and gone but it has built many memories. I, for one had a terrific time while volunteering for the paired event at GABF. It is for AHA and BA members only. It cost quite a bit of cash, $145 but it includes the pairings of chef to brewery plus entrance to the main GABF event.
Through a friend of mine who has volunteered at the Paired event for a couple of years I decided to volunteer too. There is a process of submitting an application along with a recommendation from a previous volunteer. There is also emails going back and forth with information and instructions about being a GABF volunteer.

Fellow Paired volunteers, Kirsten,
Deborah, and Jeff. 

The day of the first session was on Thursday, we arrive early to check in. We get a t-shirt which we have to wear while volunteering and a plastic tasting container for beer. Yes, we are allowed to taste beer on our break but getting wasted is very discouraged. We met up with our team lead, Laura Lodge who gives us a tour of the paired venue and off we go to our station.
Matt Lincecum
Jared Barker and Mike Friedman.

There were 22 tables that had 7 local chefs and 4 local breweries from metro Denver and Boulder. Lost Abbey, The Bruery, Oskar Blues, Ninkasi Brewing, Grand Teton and Bear Republic to name drop a few breweries that were there.

Gnoochi alla Romana.

Chicken Liver mousse.

 My station was with Fremont Brewing from Seattle and Mike Friedman, head chef of Red Hen from Washington DC. The concept is the breweries bring 2 beers and the chefs will create 2 small plates that pair with the beer. Fremont Brewing brought Field to Ferment, a fresh hop pale ale that Chef Friedman paired with a gnocchi alla romana with smoked salmon, cucumber, creme fraiche and trout roe. The second pairing was with The Lamb, a  Saison aged in oak wine barrels with a touch of Brettanomyces Lambicus, with chicken liver mousse, fig jam, fresh thyme, and hazelnuts, sandwiched between rye bread. The first day was boring standing there waiting for something to do like get water, or pass the plates to the front table. By the end of the day, I was very tired but the brewery and the chef congratulating me on a good job. The Fremont founder Matt Lincecum was there with a few of the breweries crew. They were very nice so was Mike Friedman and Jared Barker, General manager of Red Hen. They were very friendly and didn’t mind me being there drinking their beers and eating some of the small plates of food. I have to say both did a great job with the pairings. The Fremont Brewing and the Red Hen crew made the experience more enjoyable.

I took a few 10 minute breaks to taste from the other tables of paired small plates and beer. It is amazing how full you can get eating the small plates that each chef brought for their pairing of beer. I saw many people I know there at the pairing event and some famous people in the brewing industry, Eric Wallace, founder of Left Hand Brewing,  who I have been acquainted to for many years stopped by and said hello, while tasting the small dish. Our table was right in front of the entrance so most people stop there first. Jeremy Teiber, who I have written about in a previous post, was there with his wife, Allison and their year old daughter. I saw, Tomme Arthur, Lost Abbey founder wandering through the event and I praised the founder of Dry Dock Brewing, Kevin DeLange on his incredible beers that they are brewing these days.

The second day of pairings went faster because I got to help more with plating both dishes. The press were allowed in an hour early that day so there was more of a rush of plating to do. For both days the Fremont Brewing crew had also brought three flavors of chocolate from Theo Chocolate in Seattle with a case of the brewery's Rusted Nail, a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout with cinnamon, licorice, and smoked barley. That beer went fast and it paired well with the chocolate.

Theo Chocolate in three flavors,
dark chocolate, dark chocolate
with orange, and dark chocolate
with coconut.
One of the Fremont Brewing's crew
pouring Rusted Nail.

It was a very nice experience volunteering at the GABF. So if you're interested in Paired at GABF make sure you are a member of the American Home brewers Association or the Brewers Association. See you next year!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Sour Sunday 2016

It’s that time of the year again, GABF and to kick start the week is Sour Sunday at Backcountry Pizza and Tap House in Boulder Colorado. John Fayman and his staff did a wonderful job with this event, they had to clear tap lines to make room for all the sour ales. Anthony Lopiccolo, head chef at Backcountry Pizza was buzzing around looking after the food pairing of the sour ales. At noon, Cantillion Fou Foune, lambic with apricots was on cask. It's a sour ale from Belgium and rarely seen in Colorado.

The restaurant opened an hour earlier than usual, 10 am and there was a line growing outside the bar doors.  It seems early but as the saying goes, “It’s noon somewhere, right?”  
John Fayman and Max at the bar.

After getting a seat at the bar, we perused the beer menu and was a little overwhelmed by all the sour ales. Only at this kind of event do they offer a full pour (10 ounces) or a half pour (5 ounces) for every sour ale on tap. They also had bottle pours in the game room but they were only giving full pours.  After a moment or two I picked the ales I wanted to try as a half pour, Almanac Brewing’s Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville, a 7% ABV sour/wild ale with pumpkin, vanilla beans, pumpkin spices aged in oak barrels. It wasn’t my favorite. The other sour ale was from Cascade Brewing, Blackcap raspberry sour, 8.13% ABV with Blackcap raspberries aged in Oak barrels and it had that raspberry tartness. I went to the game room and got a full pour of Jester Kings Astrial Rubicite, this was my favorite beer of the day! It was like drinking raspberry jam, I called it a jammie flavor. Since it was in bottles, it was the first to kick.
Jester King Astrial Rubicite.
Almanac Pumpkin Pie de Brettaville and
Cascade Blackcap Raspberry.

Anthony made blueberry muffins with lemon curd glaze, those muffins went very well with the sour ales. We didn’t have an entree but we know how Anthony plans the pairings careful. Cheers to John and Anthony for another successful Sour Sunday!
Ryan pouring beers in the game room.

Photos of some of the Sour Sunday patrons:
Lucy (waitstaff), Dennis, Lisa and Emma.

Allison and Jeremy and baby.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

BSB 4th Anniversary

Wednesday, September 29 was the start of Black Shirt Brewing's 4-day anniversary celebration. We bought a VIP tickets for $10 that included a glass with their barrel-aged Anniversary Quad and some swag (can cozies and a brewery sticker). There were 12 others beers on tap as well.

Our VIP ticket was for Friday so we headed down to Denver around 11:30, I know that's early but we had other things to do later that afternoon and what about that old saying, "It's noon somewhere!" As expected it wasn't busy yet, with only one other patron at the bar.

We ordered the Quad, one on CO2 and the other on nitro.  It is always amazing how the flavors of a beer changes when on nitro, it's smoother, is mellower, and goes down way too easy especially since the quad is 9.5% this year.  The Anniversary Quad 4 Ways will have a different aspect of it each day: Thursday was regular, Friday was nitro, Saturday will have coffee infused in it, and Sunday will have chocolate/chili flavors.  
CO2 Quad on the left and the
nitro version right.

Carissa Miller, one of founders, was on hand while hubby Chad was delivering their canned beers and while brother-in-law, Branden was on his honeymoon. We had a great time talking to her about beer. It's been a long haul for those 3 people who wanted to start a brewery on their terms.
Carissa wanted me to try their gose, brewed with Yuzu, Lemongrass, Hawaiian Red Gold Sea Salt, dry-hopped w/ Equinox & Hallertau Blanc.  It was good but just a tad bit salty for me. You need that right balance of salt with the flavors for a great gose.

Happy Anniversary!

Larry Smith and Carissa Miller chatting it up!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

UK Adventure with some beer too!

Recently I was on an adventure of a lifetime with my family. We took a holiday to London to visit my daughter who lives there. The first day we were in a great stupor, jet lag. Heathrow to Brixton to the center of London until night was a tiring expedition to say in the least! We must have walked 15 miles that day which is easy in London with so many sights to see.

My first beer in London was in the top floor of the Waterstones Bookstore, 5th View Bar and Food. It is a rather nice with many professionals having cocktails and food in a comfortable atmosphere.  We ordered some appetizers with libations.  I had a pale ale from Whitstable Bay, light and crisp and it hit the spot after a long day.

We traveled to York then to the Town Hall of Goldsborough, to what we thought was an ancestral home but later found out our ancestors fought among themselves and burnt the family house down. Oh well, that’s family for you! We were in Knaresborough when it started to rain and we stopped in a local pub. I wasn’t impressed with their beer lineup but we did stay dry.

Back in York, I visited the York Brewery and I wasn’t disappointed. They have been brewing beer since 1996 with many IPAs, Pale Ales, ESBs on tap and something I liked, Imperial Stout on cask. That ‘s what I ordered and what the bartender poured was a large goblet of this luscious stout, at 7.0%, and it went down easy that I had another. The brewery has a 20-barrel system with 6 traditional open top fermenters and 5 conditioning tanks.

Imperial Stout and a Pale Ale

Next stop in York was a Belgian beer bar, Trembling Madness! Yes, that's the name of the bottle shop and pub. The building has been there for many, many years and the beams on the upper floor came from a ship that sailed over 800 years ago. I did manage to buy some bottles of beer to take back home with me. My husband didn’t care for the double IPA and he hasn’t cracked open the two barleywines yet. I had a Westmalle strong ale that was very good.
Westmalle and a pilsner (I don't
the brewery).
On the lower right side is the House of Trembling Madness!

These animal heads have been at this wall for many years.

Later in the week we were in Brixton where we stopped by the Craft Beer Co, it’s a tap house with 5 other locations around London. I had the Double Perle Imperial Stout, at 8.5%  it was really smooth with hints of coffee and chocolate. The next beer stop was at the Brixton Brewery which is located under the railway arch in an industrial area with a metal garage door. The taproom is very small with four long wood tables with bench seats. They had 4 beers on tap and 2 you could buy in bottles. I had the Saison which wasn’t listed on the beer board. It was good but had a sharp horsey aftertaste. My sister bought a bottle of the pale ale and said it was good.  The brewery taproom is only open on Saturday.

Harry Beswick, General Manager.

My sister, Dana out front in the

James (sales) and Laura (taproom) were
very friendly and helpful that Saturday.

Later we were in the heart of London at the Ten Bells Pub which has been open since 1756!  Two of Jack the Ripper’s victims frequented the pub, it’s always nice to have a bit of history to go along with your beer. They have a limited selection so I had a Guinness stout. It was a kind of go to beer for me in the UK.

The last night in the UK was spent in Brixton at a local pub, The White Horse. We had the Sunday roast of ribeye with mashed potatoes, cooked veggies. I had my go to beer, Guinness stout.

Sunday Roast at the White Horse Pub
in Brixton.

I know there is so many new craft breweries in the UK so my next trip to London will be to check out the beers. Oh I did have Butterbeer at the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios, not real beer but still cool!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

New York City Beer Adventure, Part 2

Beer wasn't the only adventure we were seeking in New York City, we did the Guggenheim, The Metropolitan Museum, Grand Central Station, and Chelsea Market to name a few but beer was on our minds while we went to these attractions.

On day two, we took a taxi to a tap house, The Jeffrey. It was the my favorite of all the tap houses we went to in New York. We found out about it through John Fayman, owner of Backcountry Pizza and Tap House in Boulder. It has a weird set up, with there being a bar with 20 odd taps and another bar with a barista who also is a bartender serving well or mixed drinks. I am of the mind that when I travel outside of Colorado, I like to drink the local beers or at least beers that aren't distributed there so I ordered the Everett from Hills Farmstead Brewing in Vermont. I know this brewery doesn't distribute outside of the east coast and the beer we do get here on occasion is the Dorothy, a dry-hopped pale ale. The Everett is a porter that has a chocolate, coffee, rich malty flavor and sweetness that some good porters have but with a little higher ABV at 7.5%.


The bartender told us of a bottle shop around the corner so we headed that way after a few beers. The store front didn't have a sign but a little board out front that had beer on it. I had to ask what the name of the place was and was told it's called Miso Hoppy.  There were 12 taps and bottle beers for sale in the coolers as well on shelves.  I had the Grimm Neon Lights again while Larry had 120 from Dogfish Head.  Matt, the bartender told us they had only been open for 15 weeks but it seemed to be a good addition to the neighborhood. I liked the atmosphere, both guys who were pouring the beers were friendly and were knowledgeable about east coast beers.  We bought some bottles to take back to CO, Founders Curmudgeon, and
Bottles we bought to take back
to Colorado.

 Later that night we went back to the City Swiggers around the corner from our air bnb.  I was tired from walking all day that I didn't drink anything there.

Day three of our New York adventure started at the Metropolitan Museum where we spent most of our day. We were tired again so stayed close, we ended up down the street from our apartment at Bondurants. We order some small plates with our beers. I had a Saison, Veldrijden from Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn. It was 7.8% which is high for a Saison but this didn't taste like it was that ABV.  It was smooth with fruity tones.


On our last day in New York City we stashed our luggage at Penn Station and headed towards Time Square to Rattle N Hum west. It is situated in the back of the Holiday Inn which is where entered but it has an entrance on 39th St. I didn't like the feel of this tap house, felt like a sports bar especially with the clientele.

I miss New York City and plan to go there again next year. I know that there will be new places to write about where we had a pint at.