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I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

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Entries in beer (8)


Also, We Were All Wearing Silly Hats

This week I attended two holiday beer tastings: one at the Mercury Lounge last Sunday, and one yesterday hosted by one of the local homebrewing clubs. The former was moderately serious, with a beautiful printed program and several discussions about the history of the beers we were tasting. The latter — entitled the 12 Beers of Christmas — was distinctly less formal. One of the hosts, under the pseudonym of Irving Berlinerweisse, had re-written the lyrics to a number of Christmas carols around the topic of beer. So in between the “Brewer’s Dozen” (which turned out to be fifteen) beers we tasted, we sang songs like “It’s The Most Wonderful Time To Drink Beer”, “Let It Flow”, and “Simcoe the Red-Nosed Hop Cone.”

The only problem was that we ran out of songs in the first third of the event, so the organizers asked us to come up with new ones on the fly. My table’s contribution was a re-working of “I Have A Little Dreidel” that went like this:

Pitcher, pitcher, pitcher
A pitcher I will drink
And when I find it’s empty
Another one I think.

Sadly, we couldn’t come up with good enough lyrics for our favorite title, “Do You Taste What I Taste?”


A Sour Mood Indeed

I’m written about my love for high-acid wines. Some of you who have shared a meal me know that my love for low-pH comestibles extends to food as well. I’ve said before that if you want to get me to like something, all you have to do is pickle it. As I’ve started to true explore beer this year, I’ve discovered that principle extends to sour beers as well. This meant that when — during my required pilgrimage — I discovered The Trappist had just hosted a sour beer tasting on Tuesday and still had a variety of them on tap, I was rather pleased.

Here’s what I managed to taste while I was here:

This acid obsession reached its peak at lunch today, when I had the Supplication, a salad of arugula and persimmons with red wine vinaigrette, and a plate of pickled carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, and green tomatoes. I think I was trying to pickle myself.

It was heavenly.


Fitness: None

Keeping It Local

Going into it, I knew that the Santa Barbara Beer Festival wasn’t going to be of the same caliber as the Oregon Brewers Festival. I was ok with that, and I adjusted my expectations appropriately. That was the wise choice, and as a result, I had a lot of fun.

From the beer-tasting side, the festival gave me the chance to do two things. Most of the commercial breweries there were fairly local, so it became an opportunity to taste beers that I’ve seen on shelves before but haven’t previously tried. From this category, my two favorites were the Telegraph Brewing Company White Ale and the North Coast Brewing Company Le Merle. The other thing the festival gave me the chance to do was try beers from the handful of local homebrew clubs. This was actually more fun than tasting the commercial beers, because the homebrewers tended to take a lot more risks and produce more interesting — if potentially divisive — beers. Of these, the Santa Barbeerians’ Wet Hop Red Ale, the C.A.R.P. Brewers’ Dry-Hopped Pale Ale, and the Cal Poly Brew Crew’s 80 Schilling deserve special mention. I’m becoming more and more tempted to get involved with one of these groups; if I wasn’t going to be out of town for the Barbeerians next meeting on next Saturday, I’d be there.

Beyond the beer, what made the festival fun was spending a gorgeous day outside, hanging out with friends. Some beer-loving friends of ours from LA came up for the day, so we picked a spot in the middle of festival, dropped down some towels, and staged expeditions out the various tents to bring back beer. There was lots of sharing and discussing. Having a posse of about seven seems pretty ideal for something like this.

So, different from Oregon, but just as successful. Which is the point, I suppose.


Fitness: One Hundred Pushups initial test (16)

It Was Called Oktubafest

What happened last night? Only a epic get-together at the Mercury Lounge featuring seven different Oktoberfest brews (including a special guest appearance by one from the Brewhouse, brought by Brewmaster Pete Johnson) and a load of German drinking songs played by ensemble of fourteen tubas. Did you miss it? That’s really too bad.


Fitness: Rest day
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 0 words, 217 seven-day average, 284 average, 54239 total, 761 to go for the week

This Should Have Been Obvious

It turns out there’s no good reason I can’t have the Oregon Brewers Festival experience at home.

One of the things I loved most about the festival was the opportunity to taste multiple beers in the same style side-by-side (and sometimes “-by-side”). Evaluating a raspberry wheat beer next to an IPA? Not so much fun. Two raspberry wheat beers together? That’s the ticket. My palate would notice the similarities but it would also highlight the differences. I noticed more of the subtleties when I tasted beers in the same style together.

Now, I’ve said before that one of the keystones of my wine education was tasting a lot of wine. Not just drinking it, but tasting it. That meant doing it in a controlled environment, being conscious of what I was experiencing, and talking with other people what they were getting out of it. As I’ve been writing about wine here, I’ve been tempted to set up some wine tastings of my own, based on the examples in Great Wine Made Simple. There are logistical issues with that, however.

The problem with doing wine tastings at home is that you have to have enough people for it make sense to open a lot of bottles. If you’re doing a two-ounce tasting pour, there are twelve tastes in a bottle. You might pour a little heavier than that, but not if you’re going to try to taste six wines. As a practical matter, I would want six people involved before I was going to open three bottles of wine for a tasting. Wrangling six people together for a wine tasting can be more of hassle than its worth.

And what I realized last night is that beer comes in smaller bottles in wine. I was looking for some of the Monk’s Cafe — a tasty Flemish Sour Red Ale that had with dinner on Friday night and quite liked — and I had stopped by San Roque Liquor, whose excellent selection makes it my favorite place to go looking for beer. They had the beer I was looking for, which made me happy. I decided to have a look around and inspiration struck. They had 330 ml (11.2 oz.) bottles of all three of the Rochefort beers: the 6, 8, and 10. Gwen and I are both fans of Trappist brews, and the Rochefort 10 is one of my favorite beers. So I picked up one of each, and last night before we played Asara, Gwen, James, and I did a comparison tasting. I gave everyone three glasses and split each of the bottles between them. The quantity worked out perfectly, and we could have easily added a fourth beer. The experience was just what I was looking for: a real beer tasting that helped me notice the differences between the beers and solidified my sense of the style.

Three is an easy number to rustle up. We’ve been talking about trying to play board games more regularly. It wouldn’t surprise me if at least some of those sessions turn into beer tastings as well.


Fitness: Pushups (9-11-8-8-5)
Sun, Moon, and Stars: 382 words, 386 seven-day average, 270 average, 39091 total, 1909 to go for the week; 12-day streak