Sunday, May 1, 2011

Wine, Waves & Beyond ... and Whoopie Pie!

Y'all know I love a good dessert and beer pairing.  Well at a Beer Pairing Dinner previewing the upcoming Second Annual Wine, Waves & Beyond, I came across one doozy of a delightful pairing.  We're talking Whoopie Pie here - and one not only featuring but paired with delicious beers from Paso Robles, CA brewery Firestone Walker.

What we used to call a BFO (Big Fat Oreo) back home, pastry chef Willie Vey (from the adorable Apple Farm Restaurant and Bakery in San Luis Obispo, CA) has transformed into haute deconstructed cuisine, featuring delectable dark chocolate,  bruleed 'fluff' and classic whoopie cream.  To add insult to injury (both the good kind) Chef Vey topped the pie with a caramel sauce made with Firestone Walker Brewing Company's cocoa-y and espresso-y Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout.  An amazingly big, but well-balanced beer that's been aged in bourbon barrels. 

The Whoopie Pie was paired with another Firestone Walker beer.  This time it was the much sought after 13%  limited reserve series barrel-aged American Barleywine called Abacus. Boozy whiskey and woody oak aromatics combined with milk chocolate and sweet malty undertones to make this a perfect Whoopie Pie pairing.   

If you want in on this beery Whoopie Pie goodness (along with the added backdrop of the beautiful Pacific Ocean), check out this year's Brew Masters Dinner at the Wine, Waves & Beyond which is taking place on Saturday, June 4th at 6:30 pm at the Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, CA.  All proceeds from this event go to support the Association of Amputee Surfers (AmpSurf).  The dinner is $60.00 and you can buy tickets to the Brew Masters Dinner as well as other WW&B events by clicking here.

Firestone beers will be paired with each dish prepared by executive chefs from area restaurants. Some of the featured pairings include the Cayucos Abalone Ceviche with Meyer Lemon Marinade and Black Bean Relish paired with Firestone Honey Blond, Hearst Ranch Skirt Steak Tacos with Pickled Exotic Garden Watermelon Radish and Kumquat Slices paired with Firestone Union Jack. 
Click here for a complete menu.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Houblon Who?

This is Houblon Chouffe Dobblen IPA Tripel from Brasserie d'Achouffe brewed in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes.  It's a big beer with an even bigger name. But for this beer chick, it's a perfect blend of old-world Belgian sass and new-world, west coast smack you upside the head with some hops. Insert 'Angry Birds' cheer here!

I had the opportunity to sit down at a lunch with Chris Bauweraerts (can't pronounce it), the founder of Brasserie D'Achouffe, the famous 28-year-old Belgian brewery who now acts as the brewery's ambassador, and here's what he said about my delicious Houblon  Chouffe.

This beer was first brewed in 2006 with the American market in mind.  Using three kinds of west coast hops, including Amarillo (which is my favorite hop), La Chouffe brewed a kind of Belgian Double (or Imperial) India Pale Ale, and it was really the first of its kind.  Bauweraerts amends the IPA distinction calling it an 'International Pale Ale' as this style of beer is the marriage of old-world and new-world styles that is sometimes poo poo'd by traditionalists.

I appreciate tradition and can sometimes be quite the purist, however, I love this developing style and felt that this beer was made just for me I think.  Bright and fruity, with complex malty and spicy notes and floral aromatics that starts just like a strong Saison and finishes dry and tight and grassy and citrusy.  Unfiltered, and bottle-fermented, this beer comes in at 9% ABV, which I didn't pick up on because of the supreme balance, but of which I was quite happy upon discovery!

If you love this beer, you should also try some of my other favorite Belgian (or Belgian Style) IPA's. De Ranke XX Bitter, from Brouwerij De Ranke in Belgium, Allagash Brewing Company's Hugh Malone from Portland, ME and Green Flash Le Freak from Vista, CA.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aarti's Beer Party

I had a great time drinking beer and eating great beer snacks with my friend and fellow beer chick Aarti Sequeira, who happens to be the winner of Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star, and now she has her very own rad show called Aarti Party (She also has an awesome blog at

I've received about a trillion emails asking everything from what glassware we used at the party, to how we came up with the beer pairings for Aarti's delicious and interesting dishes, to what beers to pick if the ones listed on her show aren't available in your area.

The first dish that Aarti made was called Chewda a crunchy Indian snack mix made with cornflakes, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, plantain chips, golden raisins and my favorite fried curry leaves. I thought that a crisp, dry and lighter bodied beer would be best here. A traditional Kolsch is perfect for its depth of flavor and its lightly sweet finish. I chose the Reissdorf Kolsch by Privat-Brauerei Heinrich Reissdorf, a brewery in Cologne, Germany.  Alternatives: Schlafly Kolsch from St. Louis, Missouri; Goose Island Brewing Co. Summertime Ale and Alaskan Summer Ale from Juneau, Alaska.

The next pairing was the Lebanese pita snacks called Arayes.  They are baked with a spicy beef and pine nut filling.  I chose the dry and nutty Deschutes Black Butte Porter from Bend, Oregon.  Don't let the look of this beer fool you.  It pours dark, but it's got a light and bright body, nutty and smoky flavors and a dry finish that works perfectly with this snack.  Also try this recipe with Anchor Brewing Company Porter from San Francisco, CA; Sierra Nevada Porter from Chico, CA and Bell's Brewery Porter from Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Finally, Aarti's Fish Tacos featured pan-seared mahi mahi with coriander and ancho chile powder, with warm corn tortillas, garlic-mint mayo, shredded cabbage, and pickled banana peppers. They were paired with Allagash White Ale) from Portland, Maine.  This beer is brewed with coriander and bitter orange peel that harmonized with the spices in the dish and also providing herbaceousness and citrus! Alternatives: Unibroue Blanche De Chambly from Chambly, Quebec; Alaskan Brewing Co. White Ale from Juneau, Alaska or Blue Moon Belgian White Ale from Coors.

Just like with wine, the right beer glass can make a huge difference in the flavor, aromatics and the mouthfeel of a beer.  Spiegelau makes the beautifully designed glassware that we used at the party.  Their Beer Classics line has a "Stemmed Pilsner Glass" that I use when I'm evaluating almost all beers.

Now I can cross "Get on the Food Network" off my bucket list!  Thank you to all who watched and wrote.  Beer is good!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cook It: French Onion Beer Soup

In Los Angeles, we Beer Chicks know that fall is here when the clouds come onshore all the way up to Beverly Hills and it finally starts to rain (read mist). We know it by the crazy drivers who apparently only come out when it rains. But mostly we know it by an intense craving for our special Rad French Onion Soup made to perfection with the addition of Flanders Red Ale!

In order to make the perfect French Onion Soup, we've experimented with several "best" recipes featuring different "secret" ingredients ranging from Cognac, Sherry, Port Wine and dry white wine, but it wasn't until we heard about the addition of Balsamic Vinegar as the celebrated element that we got that spark of beer inspiration.

Why are we so excited about Balsamic Vinegar you might ask? Well, because the same fermentation (Lactobacillus) that gives Balsamic Vinegar its sizzle of puckering sour acidity is also used in one of our favorite beer styles, Flanders Red Ale.

A Beer Chick's mind is always going in ways that try and figure out how to add beer to everything, so out goes the Balsamic Vinegar and in goes the Flanders Red Ale. In this recipe we used a beer called Rodenbach from Brouwerij Rodenbach out of Roeselare, Belgium. Brewed since 1836, this beer is a blend of 75% young beer and 25% aged beer. This deep, dark red-brown ale is fruity, slatey and oaky, with a puckering tartness that harmonizes perfectly with the carmelized onions and cuts through the melted French Gruyere cheese of the perfect French Onion Soup.

The Beer Chicks Rad French Onion Soup


1/2 stick of butter 6 onions sliced 6 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup Rodenbach Flanders Red Ale*
6 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon Sierra Nevada Porter Mustard**
1/8 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)
Salt & pepper
4 French bread slices, toasted
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are tender and very brown and carmelized (about 40 minutes). Add the Flanders Red Ale to deglaze the pan and simmer about 3 minutes. Combine beef broth and mustard and add to the saucepan. Simmer about 35 minutes. Add truffle oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into broilerproof bowls, making sure there is room for the toast and cheese. Top each bowl with slice of toast and grated cheeses. Broil until cheeses melt, brown and bubble. Enjoy with a Flanders Red Ale or for a completely different but equally delicious pairing, try a peppery and citrusy Belgian Saison!

*Other Flanders Red Ales that would be great with this recipe are Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe, Vichte Belgium or La Folie from New Belgium Brewing Company, Fort Collins, CO.
**We love this mustard that we bought during a visit to Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, CA. You can substitute it with any Dijon mustard.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Doctor Please, Some More of These

Many people think that because we are big beer geeks that we only like "big" beers. Au contraire mons frères! Just because most of the bad beer that's out there in the world (you know who you are) are Pilsner style lagers, doesn't mean that it’s the Pilsner's fault. Today, several craft breweries are making delightful light-bodied, nuanced Pilsner style lagers that are made with great ingredients and traditional methods!

One of our favorites (and an amazing take on a Rolling Stones song) is a beer from Oskar Blues Brewery in Lyons, Colorado called Mama’s Little Yella Pils. This beer is a bit of an amalgam of both German and Czech styles of Pilsner, using very traditional Czech Saaz hops as well as Bavarian hops from southern Germany. This beer also differentiates itself by using 100% pale malts, instead of the cheaper corn and rice that is found in a lot of other – ahem – lower quality beers.

This beer is deliciously refreshing, bright, crisp and dry with a completely clean finish. Perfect for a lunch with the girls or when you want to take your football Sunday to another level.

A point of interest is that Oskar Blues is a brewery that puts its beers in cans. But once again, don’t assume that a beer in a can isn’t a high quality craft beer. Today’s cans are much different than the cans of yore. They are now lined with a coating that keeps the beer from tasting metallic. Cans are also virtually unbreakable, are lighter to ship and keep the beer protected from light – which is what causes beers to be skunked (not age)!

Wanna try some other great Pilsner style beers? Try these Beer Chicks picks:
  • Reality Czech - Moonlight Brewing Co
  • Pikeland Pilsner – Sly Fox Brewing Co.
  • Goose Pils – Goose Island Brewery

Friday, January 22, 2010


One thing a beer chick likes is chocolate. One thing a beer chick likes better than chocolate is whipped cream. One thing a beer chick likes better than whipped cream is whipped cream made with 12% abv Belgian-style dark ale brewed with cocoa nibs & toasted pecans! What? was MLK day and I was teaching a beer and food pairing cooking/drinking class at Sur la Table at The Grove in Los Angeles with my writing partner and fellow beer chick Hallie Beaune. Everything was going along swimmingly and according to expectations. There were potatoes marinated in Scottish ale and rosemary, fresh beer braised bratwurst on a bed of apples and sauerkraut, beer battered coconut shrimp, German chocolate oatmeal stout brownies - you know, the usual.

Well, turns out, somebody forgot to grease the pan for the brownies and suffice it to say, they didn't look so good. That's when genius Sur la Table staffer Autumn made the most amazing beer infused whipped cream to "distract the eye" from the ragged edges and bottom of the still very good tasting brownie. She used The Bruery's 2 Turtle Doves beer and she whipped it up in two seconds!

Wanna add beer to your desserts? (Or just eat a bunch or whipped cream straight from the bowl?) Aside from just pouring the beer on top, here's the fastest simplest way to do it. Simple, yet so effing good!

-2 Cups Heavy whipping cream, cold
-1/4 Cup powdered sugar, sifted
-1 tsp pure vanilla bean paste
-1/8 Cup 2 Turtle Doves Belgian Ale
(or another Chocolate Stout or Russian Imperial Stout or Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

Add the cream, sugar and vanilla and with a standing mixer with whisk attachment or electric hand mixer, beat ingredients (you can use a hand whisk; it just will take longer). Start slowly and then increase the speed so its as fast but not splashing out of the bowl. When the cream just starts to thicken, slow the speed of the mixer and slowly add the beer in a steady stream. Slowly increase the speed of the mixer again and continue whipping until the cream forms soft peaks. (Warning: Autumn did tell me that if you whip the cream for too long it could curdle...just sayin.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


With our first New Year's Resolution not to procrastinate already broken, here is our Round-up of The Session #35...on January 6th! It was truly a pleasure to hear from everybody involved and to be a part of the beer blogging community! Reading your blogs and seeing the brews that passed our lips and yours, we've concluded that 2009 was a good year for beer. We certainly drank more beer this year than perhaps ever before, (which lead to some ugly mornings...).

We asked all of you beer lovers/bloggers to reflect upon your growing relationship with beer, how it felt in '09, and what you want for your beer life in 2010. Thanks to all the beer writers out there who shared their best beers of '09, the brave bloggers who revealed their beer mistakes of the past year, and all who offered their hopes and dreams for the coming year of beer. We raise a glass to all of you. We look forward to taking our book tour to even more beer cities and hope to meet all of you over a local craft beer!

Here are the highlights of some of the best beer experiences you all had in '09:

Jason Zeisloft @ A Beer In Hand is Worth Two in the Fridge mentioned the Jolly Pumpkin La Roja du Kriek, that he had at the Michigan Brewer's Guild Summer Festival as a fave. Nice choice!

Brad Petit @ La Petitie Brasserie looked back fondly on Ballast Point Sculpin, Founders KBS and Lost Abbey Duck Duck Gooze.

Alastair Reece @ Fuggled qualified a best beer as one that he wanted to drink over and over again, choosing the 'magnificent' Kout na Sumave 10 Golden Lager.

Peter Estaniel @ Better Beer Blog said that the hands down best was Sam Adams Utopia, exclaiming that, 'It is the most complex food product I have ever had the pleasure to put into my mouth.' (Props for use of the phrase 'food product').

Daniel Harper @ Endosymbiosis marks his visit to New Holland Brewery as a best of, their The Poet on cask getting his highest mark.

Thomas Vincent of Geistbear Brewing Blog loves his tasty local North Carolina Hefe, Lone Rider Shotgun Betty.

Stan Hieronymus @ Appellation Beer fell for the first vintage of The Abyss and fondly remembered 'Knocking back ounces of Southampton Cuvee Des Fleurs with Home Brew Chef Sean Paxton at GABF.'

Leigh Linley @ The Good Stuff found her heart beating rapidly for Flying Dog's Raging Bitch and confirmed the 'awesomeness' of Nogne-O's IPA.

We loved the pick from Derrick Peterman @ Bay Area Beer Runner who lauded the 'Best Beer That Makes Me Damn Proud to be Raised in the Midwest: "Blue Sky Rye" by Free State Brewing.'

As for beer mistakes and regrets, you've had a few....

Alistair Reece @ Fuggled made us laugh with graphic names for the usual suspects, 'Bud Light (Butt Wipe) and Pabst Blue Ribbon (Pap Smear)' while his worst craft beer was Ybor Gold Light, as he put it, '... if a worse beer in the US exists then thank goodness I am yet to try it.'

Beer Sagas confessed that their biggest beer mistake was not stocking up on Nøgne Ø's Christmas beer Special Holiday Ale

Brian Yaeger at Red, White, and Brew warns against the Sun Valley Brewing Co. (Hailey, ID) because, 'Spoilage is just about the worst offense ever.'

We were moved by Simon Johnson's lament @ Reluctant Scooper - 'My only regret is that it took me so long to understand just how important place, time and company are to beer enjoyment. For me, 2010 is going to be more about the context and less about the beer. But only just less :-)'

Nemsis @ writes about 'the absolutely miserable yet mind bogglingly successful "Bud Light Lime". God awful stuff made for people who hate beer. Take an empty beer bottle, fill it with "Sprite" and you have the same taste. Here in Southern Ontario they couldn't keep the stuff in stock. I saw people driving away with pick-up trucks loaded with it. Makes me want to hang my head in shame."

Smitty @ Nashville Beer Geek made us do a spit take with his description of his worst '09; Bud Light Chelada, 'If Satan had a beer bar in hell, this would be on the menu.' (Hilarious!)

Here is our favorite embarrassing beer moment of 2009:

Peter Estaniel @ Better Beer Blog: 'My most embarrassing moment of 2009 happened during Halloween when I switched from beer to tequila and started to headbutt my buddy’s Spanish-style Conquistador costume. He fabricated his armor from some sheet metal he purchased, so I was literally headbutting armor as opposed to a plastic facsimile. I ended up passing out on a chaise lounge they had in their backyard by a firepit.'

And finally, what New Beer's Resolutions are on the table for the 2010? (Here's to hoping we all keep them!)

Jon Abernathy - The Brew Site - 'Stepping up the beer writing is going to be one of my big goals for this new year.' (For us too!)

Jay R. Brooks - Brookston Beer Bulletin - 'This is probably going to sound odd, but I think I’d like to drink more beer in 2010. As it is, I drink almost every day. - In 2010, I want to do this more. Just be out more, drinking with friends.' (We'll have more beer with you Jay!)

Daniel Harper @ Endosymbiosis wants to stop his beer hoarding and 'just drink the damned thing.' (We'll take some off your hands!)

Leigh Linley @ The Good Stuff will be honing her knowledge of Italian Craft Beer on her honeymoon in Italy in September (Congrats Leigh!)

Ally Shaw @ Impy Malting hopes her 'leap of faith' investing in BrewDog pays off in 2010. (That's putting your money where your beer is!)

Mark Dredge @
Pencil and Spoon will be on a quest to convert some lager or wine drinkers and host some beer tastings and dinners to 'tell people about the joys of great beer.'

Sean Inman @ Beer Search Party has a goal: 'To taste a beer from each and every state in the United States. I certainly hope there are beers from each 50 then I have to somehow get my hands on them.' (Call us when you're in Los Angeles, we'll help you!)

John @ The Beer Nut plans to see more of the UK in 2009, and 'London in particular. I plan to continue that in 2010 with Brighton and Cardiff already looking likely, and I really should do a proper beer tour of Belfast before the promotional rail offers end.' (Good on ya John.)

Mario @ Brewed For Thought hopes to not chase down beer so much in 2010, 'With so many big, wild, limited beers out there, it can be maddening (and expensive) trying to track them all down.' (Let's just hope that they all find you!)

Cynthia Trevino @ plans to
'Taste and cook with a wonderful new beer every week.' (We're on board with that!)

Lisa Morrison @ Hop Press says that in addition to the two beer books that she promises to finish (we want to read 'em Lisa!), that one of her New Beer's Resolutions is to "Continue to beat that drum with the message that that beer is as sophisticated a beverage as wine and is just as worthy of being served with respect at the finest restaurants. But can still hang with you on a random Saturday with friends, too." (Right on, Lisa!)

And off the beer topic...

We'd like to congratulate James D @ Two Parts Rye for pulling off this caper: 'My method for sneaking a flask in on a cold rainy day at Ohio Stadium was borderline genius. My poncho is in a little plastic bag. I put the flask in the poncho. When security asked me what was in my pockets. I handed the security guy the poncho, and by the transitive property of being sneaky, the flask. Showed them my phone, wallet, etc. Security handed me back my flask. I was proud of myself, and when the skies opened, thankful to have a pint of Manhattan pre-mixed.' (Awesome.)

Cheers to the New Year!!!!