Archive for the ‘Craft Beer’ Category
Saturday, December 15th, 2012 marked 3 Stars Brewery’s launch into the world of Art and Beer with their new Mural at their 6400 Chillum Place Brewery and a Who’s Who of DC Food and Drink Artisans.
This was a DC Foodie Scene:
-I finally tried (and met the owners of DC’s First Distillery) Green Hat Gin – I really like their blend of spices with alot of Indian spice like cardamom and interestingly it reminded me alot of Pisco. Michael Lowe and John Uselton were both there and I could feel their enthusiasm for DC’s first Distillery in many years. Currently, they offer the chance to work their bottling line at the Distillery, but we talked about a more in-depth class like a Distilling 101, more news soon..
-Qualia Coffee’s Joel Finkelstein was sampling his off-premise brand “Fresh Off the Roast” and talking about his recent tasting with some DC Local Press – Here’s the article from Tim Carman over at WaPo about Joel’s indignation over the lack of quality crafted coffee in DC Restaurants
-I sampled some of Righteous Cheese ‘s well, cheeses, and chatted with the Founder Carolyn Stromberg about the need for more cheese classes in DC. Her schedule is so busy and a retail cheese shop is so demanding of her time, that she felt she could only do a limited number, but expect to see more in 2013.
-3 Stars was pouring Pandemic Porter, Southern Belle, Peppercorn Saison, Sea Change Pale Ale, Winter Madness, Global Pandemic (Bulleit barrel-aged Pandemic Porter (aged six months from the first brew in the brewery) blended with fresh Pandemic Porter) and all were delicious – I definitely remember the oak, vanilla and smoke of the last beer which would be perfect with some BBQ pork ribs! Dave Coleman was having a great time with the release of the new mural made by local artist Kendra Kuliga – I also noticed that the warehouse space had room for expansion..sort of a hint?
-Teddy Folkman of Granville Moore’s was slicing up some salty and delicious brisket as well as some briney Edwards Virginia Hams (which remind me alot of Spain’s Serrano Ham).
-Sampled some charcuterie with Three Little Pigs co-owner Carolina Gomez – she told me the store would be closed much of January because she’ll be getting married.
-Gordy’s Pickles Sheila Fain spoke with me about the phenomenal growth of her spears and how Whole Foods was carrying them in all of their DC markets. I had to bring up the curious local connection of Rob Duncan of Dolcezza creating a special Thai basil jalapeño sorbetto, featuring Thai basil jalapeños from Gordy’s Pickle Jar
Rappahanock Oysters was tasting some of their wonderful salty Virginia oysters. I’m hoping they do more tasting events and dinners in Washington, D.C. – Although we have one major oyster fest (Oyster Riot at Old Ebbitt Grille), there is definitely enough demand for more events around oysters and easily we could pair them with other local artisan products..speaking of which..
There were also Cocktails by Nick Nazdin of El Chucho & Carlo Bruno of Sidebar, but by this point I was so looped, that I had no palate to speak of!
A fun time had by all and a very good idea for future new concept events – maybe we could do a DC Brew and Oyster Fest, or a DC Cocktail Expo, or even a Chesapeake Wine and Oyster Fest..there are a myriad of possibilities and definitely the demand is there for these type of Foodie Experiences – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
26 Beers..26 FULL-SIZED Beers..26 Beers and 26 Bars..
The Crawl Begins..I attended the Inaugural DCBeerathon which was held in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, November 10th, 2012. I really had no idea what to expect – first time event in DC, but a record in NYC..we would see.. Let me give you the bottom line: it’s a beer tasting/crawl that takes almost super-human stamina and for some reason, I even believed I could visit all 26 bars and finish all the beers! Note to self: next time, skip the bars with Mega-commercial beers and go home after 14 or so stops – my body/brain was so overwhelmed just past the midway point, that frankly I’m not sure what I said or did!
I started the event a little before 1 pm at James Hobans Irish Pub just off Dupont Circle, and found a group of local beer crawlers who were willing to put up with me for a few stops. Since there were 4 different egistration bars, there was only a small crowd of people waiting to go on the tour – a group of guys wearing Uncle Sam costumes were at the front of the line, but they were really the exception to this event – most people were just regular un-costumed beer lovers, or people looking for a good excuse to try out all of these bars. I didn’t see anyone in running costume..during any point in the event..OK, it’s NOT a running event (at least in DC).
<Note: Rather than list all 26 bars and beers, I’m including the Event Course at the Bottom of this Post – click on the photo and it will be easier to read.>
Starting from Hoban’s (Beer 1: Guinness Black Lager), we left to go south on Connecticut Ave. and began cruising at a good pace with my fellow imbibers: Max, the Golfing Floridian, his wife Ammi (she wasn’t drinking — only with us for moral support!), Brent the Commercial Real Estate Wheeler Dealer, and a gentleman I’ll just call Mr. Navajo..I found out late in the experience that he was 100% Native American Indian..I may have said something about this, maybe something I shouldn’t have said, but frankly I don’t remember, and he was a fun guy to hang out with! The Floridians were relatively new to DC, so I was sort of the local guide – we had a course map that was frankly very well detailed, and having lived in DC for over 20 years..well, we didn’t get lost..at all..Our basic route was south from Dupont to Science Club, Mackey’s and then north up Connecticut Ave. and all the way up to Adams Morgan (The Reef was our high point..literally, we were on the roof after the walk up 18th St.)and then we hopped on a taxi and decided to go from the south part of 14th St., starting at Stoney’s and move our way north to 14th and U which had multiple stops on the same block..this is also where our cohesiveness as a group began to fade..I guess I wore out my welcome, but who knows!
Here are just the “Lessons I Learned” and Highlights:
-Our pace quickened as time went on – At our 2nd stop at Science Club, we sat down, chatted a bit and I learned about my fellow drinkers. The Floridians were just getting into the food scene here in DC and were curious about local customs. I told them about how craft beer was booming in the DC Market and how only just over a year ago our first brewery DC Brau opened up, and how many more had followed afterward. Once we all got to know each other (Wheeler Dealer and I both talked real estate for awhile – I once was a commercial real estate broker in DC in a former life until I Drink on the Job ), we stopped sitting down at each bar – rather, we would walk in, show our badge (which got clicked), get our beer, down it, and move on..efficiency is the game!
-Beers with more flavor became easier to drink as we went along as our taste buds became bored with flat commercial-style beers. So I’ll probably never get Annheuser Busch to sponsor my TasteDC business..oh well, I think it’s better to be honest..American style lagers begin to taste flat and almost like “lite” beer along the way as your palate becomes a bit fatigued. I also noticed that “hoppier beers” like Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA revive your palate and wake up your senses – almost like a cold splash of water in the face. Other beers of note – I had my first 3 Stars Beer – the Pandemic Porter at Stoney’s, very flavorful and not too creamy, more refreshing – DC Brau Public Pale Ale - I had this when playing Bocce at Black Jack (first-time – I beat Mr. Navajo, and he was Pissed!) – the hops really revived me and gave me needed energy!
-You Have to Eat Along the Way. I had mixed feelings about eating and drinking beer – this tends to put me right to sleep, so I ate lunch before I left. Still, in the spirit of sharing, everyone bought food and shared like the Sliders that Mr. Navajo provided to us at BGR’s – grease is good, and BTW – their onion rings are HUGE and real vidalia onions..some of the best I’ve ever had! We also all grabbed a big slice of Pizza once we were on 14th & U – that was good and needed sustenance..
-After the first few beers, I began drinking a few swigs out of the glass, often leaving half the beer. Hey, it was impossible to stay sober, but why waste yourself with bad/boring beer? I began to notice that beer was tasting like water near the end – which was around 10 pm when everyone split-up – and the final beer I had, a PBR (1905 ran out of Kona..I think?)..couple sips..need I say more?
-At some point, a certain mental lunacy sets in where you stop really being aware, and go on instincts.
Even good people go looney after 15-20 beers, multiple bars, and 10 hours on your feet. I think it was at Alero on U St. where the volume went way up on the music and Wheeler Dealer starting hitting on a woman, and her girlfriend laid into him – this is why Saturday nights are a really bad time to go drinking in bars – it seems that everyone holds back the whole week to let go..I think this is when the group lost cohesiveness and I said some things I shouldn’t have said ( who me??) and the group split up.
-The point of DCBeerathon is to have fun – it’s not a game to win. Considering that I spent over 9 hours walking, talking, drinking, and eating with 4 people I barely knew, it’s amazing that we all got along..and had a pretty good time at it! My conclusion is this is a fun event for people who enjoy beer, a little partying, but also a unique way to see DC our city. Everyone wants to experience a city in their own way, and I would definitely do Beerathons in their other cities which now include Houston, NYC and Savannah, Georgia..maybe this could be done with wine and whiskey too, who knows – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
P.S. Almost forgot..I actually completed “getting” 24 beers out of the 26 stops AND I actually stopped at the 25th stop which was JoJo’s, but I never got a beer – the place was so crowded from the band, so I just hung out and sobered up a bit..oh, I missed The Codmother, which would have been 26..
WTOP Beer of the Week: 3 Stars Brewery Pandemic Porter
w/Greg Engert, Beer Sommelier of Neighborhood Restaurant Group
Last year in 2011, two new breweries opened up in Washington, D.C. – this after almost 60 years without a brewery to call our own. Yes, we have Brew Pubs like Capitol City Brewpub, District Chophouse, and Gordon Biersch, but a true brewery produces beer in quantity for off-premise consumption. With the openings of DCBrau on April 15th, 2011 (great article by Tammy Tuck/Lagerheads) and Chocolate City Beer on August 18th, 2011, the DC Beer Scene had something to Celebrate – Local Pride! You will hear over and over again if you live in the DC area that there are few natives, almost everyone who lives here comes for a job/career and the assumption is they may not be here for much longer than a few years. The sign of a good economy is a mobile economy – this is true, but employees are human and they need to identify with something. This is where the locavore movement came to be: the concept that by eating local, and supporting local businesses, you help the local economy and develop a sense of community pride. DC’s local breweries tapped into this need for local identity – just consider their company names and the names of their beers, for example, DC Brau’s The Corruption and The Citizen.
I also want to mention that DC doesn’t always mean “District of Columbia” to us locals – NoVa (Northern Virginia) and Montgomery County (sometimes Prince George’s County too!) in Maryland all make up our local craft beer market – Baltimore is a whole different story. Port City Brewery opened up in 2011 with a bang and from a slightly different angle – yes, Alexandria, VA needed a Brewery (or 2..) but the background of Port City’s founder is really the story of the evolution of a wine professional into a craft beer brewer. During my days in the wine business, I often saw Bill Butcher, Port City’s Founder, at Mondavi tastings promoting the wine lifestyle. And that’s what wine marketing is really about – lifestyle. People who purchase wine tend to have a higher income (or they did a decade ago), are well educated, and pretty much define the commonly used term today “aspirational” – they have money, but dream of a higher status, and Mondavi/wine perfectly fit into this cozy scenario. But beer is different, even craft beer. What Bill did is create a local brand that gives and identity to Northern Virginia that it needed – a sense of place. SEE LIST OF PAID EVENTS BELOW
Quick Info Resources:
- DC Beer Week 2012 from the DCBeer people
- Washington City Paper (considered the Official List)
- Washington Post (Fritz Hahn)
Some events that feature local breweries or paid events to plan ahead for include:
3rd Annual DC Beer Week Craft Beer & Dinner Cruise on the Odyssey, August 12th (Sunday) boards the Odyssey at 5 pm, sets sail 6-9 pm
Enjoy unlimited tastings of more than 40 craft beers from across the US and around the world Included in the cost of admission is a full dinner buffet, DJ, dancing and a 3-hour cruise along the Potomac as we pass the majestic skyline of the nation’s capital. Cost is $125, tickets will not be available at the door, but can be purchased here.
-Italian Craft Beer Tasting
August 12th (Sunday) 2:30-4:30pm
Maple, 3418 11th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20010
Maple is hosting an afternoon tasting of craft brews from Italy. The country’s vibrant beer scene has rapidly expanded in recent years,
but the beers are not yet widely available in the U.S. Join us to sample six Italian beers and learn about the breweries behind them.
Antipasti will be served. Beer List
Tickets Are $40/per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity
Please reserve your spot by calling us at 202-588-7442.
-Meridian Pint: Cheese and Oxbow Beer – August 13th (Monday) 6:30pm
Meridian Pint – 3400 11th Street NW
Join Tim Adams, co-founder and head brewer of Oxbow Brewing Company, and Tim Prendergast, Assistant Beer Director at the Meridian Pint and a Certified Cicerone®, for a casual afternoon exploration of Oxbow beers and American artisanal cheese. Through five pairings, you will see the amazing affinity that Oxbow’s farmhouse beers and artisanal cheese have for one another. $45 includes tax and gratuity. Buy your tickets here http://goo.gl/STeiK. Save $10 when you also purchase tickets for Smoke & Barrel’s “Beer Meat Whiskey: Utah Edition” event http://goo.gl/Wy47z.
-5-Course Ommegash it’s Allagang Beer Dinner, August 14 at 7 p.m.
Granville Moore’s, 1238 H St. NE, Washington, DC 20002Portland, Maine’s Allagash Brewing Co. and Cooperstown, N.Y.’s Brewery Ommegang provide the beer for this dinner with food pairings by Granville Moore’s Chef Teddy Folkman and his culinary team. Complete Menu Tickets Are $65/per person, Call For Menu and Reservations (202) 399-2546
- SOLD OUT-DC Brau’s Genuine 1st Annual Official DC Beer Week Crab Festival Monumental Extravaganza, August 15th (Wednesday) 5 – 10 pm
Quarterdeck Restaurant, 1200 Fort Myer Drive, Arlington, VA 22209
SOLD OUT-Please help DC BRAU celebrate indigenous beer and these indigenous mid-Atlantic delicacies – All you can eat crabs and DC Brau Discount Pitchers of Beer. Tickets Are $35/per person, Purchase Tickets Online
-Smoke and Barrel: Beer, Meat, and Whiskey: Utah Edition – August 15th (Wednesday) 7pm
Join Michael Malachowski, National Sales Manager of Epic Brewing, and Troy Karnes, Passionate Whiskey Missionary from High West Distillery, for an hour of exploration into pairing meat with Utah beer and whiskey. Executive Chef and pitmaster Logan McGear will offer three distinct meat plates each paired with an Epic brew and a High West concoction.
$45 includes tax and gratuity. Save $10 when you also purchase tickets to Meridian Pint’s Cheese & Oxbow Beer event. Details at http://goo.gl/58rNY. Tickets and menu available here:
-Mad Fox Brewing Company: Cask Beer Dinner August 15th (Wednesday)
Mad Fox Brewing Company – 444 West Broad Street – Falls Church
Five course beer dinner featuring Mad Fox’s cask beers. $75/person.
-Hopfenstark Guided Beer Tasting, Thursday, August 16, Georgetown, 7pm
Pizzeria Paradiso (Georgetown), 3282 M Street NW, Washington DC 20007
Featuring a guided tasting of 10 Hopfenstark beers by brewmaster Frederick Cormier
$35 for 10 three ounce pours & your choice of 1 twelve ounce pour paired with its own Special Pizza
Call 202-337-1245 for Reservations (Required)
Complete Menu of Beers
-District Chophouse: 2nd Annual Cask Night – August 16th (Thursday) 6pm
District Chophouse – 509 7th Street NW , Washington, D.c.
Featuring Handcrafted Casks from over 15 Local Area Breweries, including DC Brewers Beer Week Collaboration Beer: Solidarity Saison, Bluejacket, DC Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Company, District Chophouse, and many more! $50 ticket includes: unlimited beer sampling, light Chophouse fare, tasting glass, raffle prizes. Reserve tickets by calling 202-347-1922
-Smoke and Barrel: Crab Feast with Evolution and 3 Stars Brewing Companies, August 17th (Friday)
Smoke and Barrel – 2471 18th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
Tom Knorr, founder of Evolution Craft Brewing, is driving down bushels of Maryland Blue Crabs straight from the shore. Join him and the guys from 3 Stars Brewing for an all-you-can-eat crab feast. $45 covers tax and gratuity, as well bottomless Evolution and 3 Stars drafts from 6-8PM! Tickets available here: http://goo.gl/Tvj7i
-Bier Baron: Midsummer Barleywine Festival , August 17th (Friday) 7pm
Bier Baron – 1523 22nd Street NW , Washington, D.C.
The Bier Baron will be releasing its Cellar Reserve List—featuring its extensive collection of rare and vintage beers—and hosting a vertical tasting of four select vintages of Anchor Old Foghorn. Tickets can be purchased at BierBaronDC.com ($40 online/$50 at the door). Ticket includes entry to the event, a vertical tasting of Old Foghorn starting with an entire bottle of vintage 1991, and 20% off everything on the Cellar List and vintage barley wines on draft. Purchase Tickets Online (Paypal)
More to Come!
Even with this heat wave, I’m seeing alot of food and drink events in the DC Region and some interesting cooking classes as well. I thought the Blog would be a fun place to post these events every once in awhile (until the TasteDC Food and Drink Event Calendar is completed in the Fall), enjoy!
5-Course Belgian Beer Dinner
June 25th (Monday) 7 pm
Mad Fox Brewing Company, 444 West Broad Street, Suite I, Falls Church, VA 22046
Menu with Beers
Our culinary team, led by Executive Chef Andrew Dixon, has an exciting menu for our first Belgian themed beer dinner. We’ll have a 5-course meal paired with Mad Fox’s Belgian-style beers, including the soon to be released Abbaye des Chutes and the Witte Vos Witbier.
The cost is $75 excluding taxes and gratuity – seating is limited,
Reservations with a credit card are taken at 703-942-6840.
Gluten Free Wine Dinner
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
Wildfire McLean, Tysons Galleria 3rd Floor, McLean, VA 22102
Join us for an evening of gluten free dining, featuring a four course custom menu, each paired with a hand-selected
wine to complement the dish. The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., follwed by dinner at 7:00 p.m.
Guest speaker, Vanessa Weisbrod, Executive Editor of Delight Gluten Free Magazine, will be on hand to share her insight on living and dining gluten free.
Tickets Are $65/per person exclusive of tax and gratuity
Make Reservations by Calling Elissa or Amanda at (703) 442-9110
6-Course Sushi-Ko Beer Dinner
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
5455 Wisconsin Avenue Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Six-course menu created by owner and creative director of Sushi-ko, Daisuke Utagawa, together with beer expert Jocelyn Cambier.
The beer dinner is $85, all inclusive. Here’s the menu:
Edamame paired with Port City pale ale
Lobster and Asparagus Suimono (clear soup) with Brasseurs Illimites double porter
Flounder Carpaccio with White Soy and Truffle Sauce complemented by a surprise beer of Brasseurs du Monde
Honey and Soy Roasted Duck with A l’Abri de La Tempete Corps Mort
Spicy Broiled Mussels and Coronado Islander IPA
and a final course of Nigiri Sushi paired with Brasseurs Illimites Imperial Stout
Call (301) 961-1644 for tickets
Wine Tasting 101: Champagne Deutz & Maison Delas (Rhône) Class
June 26th (Tuesday) 7 pm
French American Cultural Foundation, La Maison Francaise, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007
Our monthly Wine Tasting 101 soirées — with veteran wine journalist Claire Morin-Gibourg – explores the regions (Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône Valley, Languedoc and Bordeaux) and vineyards in France, as well as tasting techniques. List of wines for this session include: -Champagne Deutz Brut Classic, Champagne Deutz Brut Rosé nv, Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs, Cuvée William Deutz millésimé, Delas Frères blanc Saint Joseph ou Condrieu, Delas Frères rouge Hermitage; Also included: a fine assortment of cheeses.
Tickets Are $70/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
June 26th (Tuesday) 6:30 pm
The Washington Hilton Hotel
1919 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Enter through the “T Street” Entrance
VIP Reception for Sponsors & Special Guests, 5:30pm
Main Doors Open, 6:30pmMore than 1,300 guests will enjoy tastings from 60 of the region’s brightest culinary stars while raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support children and adults facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. In addition to a menu filled with one-of-a-kind delights, you’ll enjoy bidding on live and silent auctions featuring travel opportunities and other great adventures.
Tickets Are $250/per person (Table/Sponsorships Available)
More Info and Purchase Tickets Online
One ticket to The Gibson Whiskey Cocktail Making Class on Wednesday June 27, 2012 at 6 PM
Whiskey-blending tutorial with premium single malt whiskeys
Take-home custom blended whiskey
Tickets Are $60/per person
6-Course Spanish Wine Dinner
June 27th (Wednesday) 7 pm
Tuskies, 203 Harrison St., Leesburg, VA 20175
Guest speaker Alicia Geiser will showcase some of the delicious wines coming from Spain. Chef Patrick will be hard at work pairing these wines with his interpretation of Spanish cuisine. $95 inclusive
Tickets Are $95/per person inclusive
Purchase Tickets Online
Catoctin Creek – The Art of Summer Cocktails
June 27th (Wednesday) 6:30 – 8:3O PM
J&G Steakhouse Wine Bar, 515 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20010
Scott Harris, general manager of the award-winning Virginia distillery Catoctin Creek, will demonstrate how to make three whiskey-based drinks that are sure to be a hit at your next summer soirée. Guests will also enjoy paired bites and receive a gift bag of Catoctin goodies after the event and then show off your newly acquired mixology skills later this summer.
Tickets Are $41/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
Great Lakes Brewing Company Beer Dinner
June 28th (Thursday) 7 – 10 pm
Dino’s, 3435 Connecticut Avenue NW
Cleveland Park, Washington DC, 20008
The Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Mission Statement: “Great Lakes Brewing Company is a principle-centered, environmentally respectful and socially conscious company committed to crafting fresh, flavorful, high-quality beer and food for the enjoyment of our customers. We aspire to maintain our status as the premier craft brewery in the Great Lakes region and are dedicated to uncompromising service, continuous improvement and innovative consumer education.”
See Complete Menu http://www.dino-dc.com/2012/06/great-lakes-brewing-company-brew-dinner.html/#start
Tickets Are $55/per person exclusive of tax & gratuity
Call for Reservations 202-686-2966
Essential Knife Skills
June 30th (Saturday) 2:30 – 4:30 pm
Sur La Table (Pentagon City), 1101 South Joyce Street Suite B-20 , Arlington, Virginia 22202
One of our most popular classes, join us as our expert instructor helps students become confident at the cutting board with the chef’s most important tool. Students will hone basic knife skills and practice the fundamental cuts for vegetables—mince, dice, brunoise, batonnet and julienne—as well as learn some advanced techniques. We’ll also show you how to select a knife that best fits your needs, and share tips for keeping all your cutlery sharp and well maintained at home.
Tickets Are $59/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
BBQ and Smoking Cooking Class
June 30th (Saturday) 2 -5 pm
Culinaria, 110 Pleasant Street Northwest Vienna, VA 22180
Summertime and barbecue – they just go together. Chef Mike will discuss brining, rubs and the various cuts and preparation of smoked meats including pork shoulder, ribs and salmon. Come learn how to make and, most importantly, taste some great BBQ and smoked items.
Tickets Are $85/per person
Purchase Tickets Online
So what is “Real Ale” and what is a Real Ale Festival?
Please Note: I went to the Chesapeake Real Ale Fest 2011 which you can read about below, but I also want to mention that I’m planning a DC Based Real Ale Fest some time in late 2011. My next local Real Ale Festival is in Bel Air, MD, in early September – you can purchase tickets at: Real Ale Festival
My Quest for “Real Ale”?
This was my mission on Saturday, May 14th, 2011 as I visited the Chesapeake Real Ale Fest 2011 at the Pratt Street Ale House in Baltimore, MD. To make things even more interesting, my Verizon DSL, phone and FAX were under repair for the 3rd day – seems that 3 visits from Verizon Repair Techs couldn’t resolve the problem – the concept that the phone line had actually been cut was confirmed by Tech 1, but seemed to baffle Tech 2..until he went up on the Poll and confirmed that..OK, back to Real Ale..
My curiosity with Real Ale has alot to do with my background in wine – in wine, the concept of “terroir” or the “placeness” of wine (some would call it “micro-climate”, but that’s over-simplified..) is an integral factor in the taste and composition of wine. Wine is alive and represents all the factors involved with grapes and wine-making – including yeast. Real Ale is very much about the yeast – keeping them alive and allowing them to flourish and remain alive and change the flavors in the beer. But first, let’s clear up a few terms and concepts..
What Is Real Ale?
From Wikipedia: Real ale is the name coined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in 1973 for a type of beer defined as “beer brewed from traditional ingredients, matured by secondary fermentation in the container from which it is dispensed, and served without the use of extraneous carbon dioxide“.
Real Ale = Cask Ale?
YES -Right from Wikipedia: Cask ale or cask-conditioned beer is the term for unfiltered and unpasteurised beer which is conditioned (including secondary fermentation) and served from a cask without additional nitrogen or carbon dioxide pressure. Cask ale may also be referred to as real ale, a term coined by the Campaign for Real Ale, often now extended to cover bottle-conditioned beer as well.
Is “Bottled-Conditioned” Beer the Same as Real Ale?
Yes - Bottled conditioned ale has living yeast that will generally consume and alter the aging compounds in a beer, making it evolve instead of degenerate with age. Thus, some bottled conditioned ales could be of over ten years of age, evolving in flavor during that time.
If My Ale Isn’t Real, Is it Fake? This is very similar to the argument about wines that having no terroir or character because they’ve been over-manipulated by man – I don’t believe that’s true, because a good brewer just like a good winemaker can take good ingredients and make them taste excellent. Making wine or beer is a talent that can be learned and is not wholly based on the raw ingredients – then again, if the grapes had a difficult growing season or the Hops are used incorrectly, that will have an outcome on the final product. The good news is that beer producers have choices on how their final product tastes – West Coast brewers LOVE hops, while other brewers ususally use hops more sparingly. And then there are breweries that use local hops, possibly even organic hops. The same goes with grains – brewers can choose many different grains like wheat and barley, and where they are produced. Ultimately, beer is more about the brewer’s style, while wine is a split between the quality of the grape harvest and the winemaker. Ultimately, the consume must decide.
Me? Well, I drink Real Ales when possible because I like the often sour notes or unusual flavor conditions of the beer for a truly unique drinking experience! Do I think Real Ale will someday surpass those of regular beers? No – and why should they – to enjoy something unique, special and unusual is all about the personal experience, and no one wants those to be copied..just like individuality, craft beer should be enjoyed simply for the experience occasionally, but most of the time it really just quenches my thirst – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
I’ve been on local TV five times since I wrote the book “I Drink on the Job” and it was mostly to give the book exposure – the title doesn’t suggest it, but really I wrote mostly about my experiences with wine and how much of what I learned was wrong or flawed. Now that I’m moving into the craft beer industry (I’m organizing DC’s Own Beer Festival – MAC Brew Fest on Saturday, Oct. 15th, 2011) I’ve decided to switch gears a bit. About one year ago I became seriously interested in the DC craft beer scene after reading Tammy Tuck’s article in Citypaper “Back to the Future: Inside D.C.’s First New Breweries in Decades”. Since then, I’ve lined up all the local breweries that recently opened in DC (DC Brau, Chocolate City, Port City, and Lost Rhino) and I’ve spent quite a bit of time tasting, meeting and participating in the local DC beer Renaissance – it’s a train that’s just starting to move! So when I received a call from Lindsey Gustin of Fairfax, VA’s Channel 10′s Chef’s Recipes to cook on TV in August, 2011, I thought it was finally time to break into beer as part of a meal – in my case, that meant cooking with beer.
This was my 3rd time on this show and each time I had a different role – the first time was pretty wide open cooking, the 2nd time was “Composing a Cheese Tray” and on August 16th, 2011 it was “Cooking with Beer”. I’m including Youtube videos of the cooking on the show, but my goal was clear:
- 1)Show that craft beer is flavorful to cook with just like wine,
- 2)Use as many local craft beers in the region to cook beer-centric dishes while supporting MAC Brew Fest sponsoring breweries (and also one Food Sponsor – Dolci Gelati
- 3)Treat beer more like wine – something to be savored and enjoyed with meals
The first dish I demonstrated was Beef Carbonnade made with Stillwater Ales Stateside Saison. Carbonnade is a fancy Belgian name for essentially long slow braised beef in beer. Traditionally Belgian beer is used in the recipe, but many American brewers travel to Belgium and learn how to use their native yeasts and produce comparable styled beers. Stillwater Ales is a brewery run by friend Brian Strumke – he’s known as a “Gypsy Brewer” – in other words, he doesn’t have his own physical brewery, but because of his creativity with producing flavorful and innovative beer styles, many breweries throughout the world collaborate with him to produce artisanal beers that have real flavor and character. The combination of this dark flavorful malty beer with browned meat and slow cooked caramelized onions had the whole camera crew salivating during taping – here’s the video:
The next dish was a New Orlean’s favorite: BBQ Shrimp. BTW, there is NO BBQ Sauce in BBQ Shrimp, the name is misleading – essentially it means shrimp soaking in butter – two whole sticks for 1 pound of shrimp! In this case, I actually wanted a more neutral lighter style of craft beer and since I found Starr Hill Festie on sale at Whole Foods on P St., in DC, that was the perfect beer. Essentially, you brown onions add 2 sticks of unsalted butter, a little garlic, then spices, salt and pepper (I always adjust recipes with my own spices I mix together after purchasing from Penzey’s Spices) and finally some crab boil (again, I was more creative with some Miso and Asian Shrimp Paste combined), beef stock, lemon and of course beer. You pour this sauce over the shrimp in a casserole and broil for about 15 minutes..let sit, eat shrimp and soak up Italian bread with the butter goodness!
Finally, I’m normally too lazy to bake a dessert, so I went for an old favorite – a Beer Float. I learned about this after reading and trying a Guinness Stout with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – the contrast of rich malty beer and vanilla sweet ice cream is just ecstasy to the senses! I used in this case Alexandria, VA’s Port City Porter and one scoop of Dolci Gelati’s Creme Brulee – the combination of rich caramelly roasted malty beer and the cool gelato is such a delicious contrast, you have to try this!
It was a really enjoyable taping, and of course, I got a chance to talk about MAC Brew Fest and to treat craft beer as a gourmet product fitting for both cooking in recipes and serving with the final dish – see you all in DC on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 at MAC Brew Fest – Cheers!
So after spending the last 14 years focusing on learning about wine and food (and plenty of beer and spirits in between!), I’ve decided to re-dedicate myself to craft beer. I’m certainly not giving up on wine, but I’ve seen the light – growth in craft beer sales and consumption in the U.S. has increased consistently at over 10% a year for the last 5 years. But the real impetus for moving myself into the craft beer field is really that Washington, D.C. is a VERY under-served area for craft beer. For example, we only have a few breweries in the area including Baying Hound Aleworks, DC Brau, Port City Brewing Co., and Lost Rhino Brewing Co.. Although we do have some excellent brew pubs such as Franklin’s, Mad Fox Brewing and Capital City Brew Pub, there is so much room for growth in both local breweries and brew pubs. And did I mention that the beer wholesalers in the area tell me they can’t get enough craft beer to keep up with demand?
So here’s the official announcement – I’m organizing the Mid-Atlantic Craft Brew Festival, known as “MAC Brew Fest” on Saturday, October 15th, 2011 in Washington, D.C. at the Sphinx Club which is hidden gem of a venue in the heart of DC at 13th and K St., NW. The website is at MAC Brew Fest and will include 30 craft breweries – many from the DC/MD/VA area as well as delicious food paired with the craft beers. Right now my event planner and I are working on the event including developing the TasteDC Food Pavilion which will include a minimum of 30 American artisanal cheeses, locally sourced charcuterie, a gelato bar and extensive selection of sweets and desserts as well as international foods. The goal is to showcase craft beer as part of meal with regional specialties. I’ll keep updating the blog and website, but I’m looking forward to creating a beer event that makes people proud of our city – Cheers!
I haven’t forgotten my dear Blog readers..just needed some Summer time off to re-visit, re-invent, and re-think; I think everyone deserves a little time off for reflection. Nothing earth shattering, just a chance to travel a bit (short soul searching trip to Durham and Nagshead North Carolina, gotta tan out of the deal!) and look back. Conclusion? Sit tight, there are changes going on in the U.S. in general and in the food and wine industry as well. Here are some ongoing and new trends I’ve noticed:
1) Restaurant portions are getting larger..and larger
I was at the Fancy Food show in NYC and mentioned to an exhibitor how I don’t enjoy going out to eat at restaurants as much as I used to because the portions are so large – I hate wasting all that food or taking it with me. The reply was interesting..they asked me if I had seen the size of the new dinner plates being offered by many restaurants, they were on display at a restaurant supplier’s booth – they were Serving Tray Size! Call it the Cheesecake Factory effect, but many existing chains as well as standard American restaurants will be using bigger entree plates. Conclusion: the American waste size will just keep getting bigger..
2) The Food Truck Craze is Amazing!
I’m by no means an expert on this, but I think it suggests a longer term trend. If more and more food trucks hit the streets, then restaurants are going to have to compete on price, value and variety as well The trucks offer such a diverse array of foods, we even have a Korean Taco food truck on the streets of Washington, D.C. People often wait 45 minutes or more when they could easily sit in a restaurant, get service and finish their meal in the same amount of time. Why people prefer this method of food delivery is hard to say, but one reason is most likely the rare chance for people to physically interact. As we get more computer and technology oriented in our daily lives, there will be more need and excuses for real human contact.
3) Craft Beer is Hot
I somehow missed this trend – pretty ironic when you consider that I make a living organizing wine and food events over at TasteDC. Again, what causes a trend like this is hard to determine, but I have an inkling that it may be a reverse trend. Craft beer attracts slightly more men than women overall, but it’s not a significant percentage difference, or at least it isn’t lopsided. On the other hand, the number of women’s events in the DC area is astonishing – every week there are many fashion, women-only networking, plus the fact that stores offer much more selection for women – I even found a yoga store that is exclusively for women! All men have left is sports, restaurants and..beer! With more and more dollars being spent by women FOR women (vs. as gifts by women for men), expect to see more “male oriented” food and beverage trends. Craft beer fits perfectly because most boys/men are brought up with beer, and craft beer’s demographics are higher income, better educated and more traveled.
I’ll keep searching for new trends, but hopefully this gives a snapshot or taste of what’s going on in our world of food and beverages – Cheers!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler