Friday, June 30, 2006

Into the Wild Beer Yonder

I'm sitting here wondering where to start. I could start talking about hops and malt and yeast and water and the attributes and nuance each ingredient lends to beer. I could teach about fermentation and carbonation and blah blah....believe me, I'll get to that eventually. But what I find really turns a non-beer drinking girl into a beer-o-phile chick is when I give her something to taste that makes her say, "Holy sh*t, this is awesome, I can't believe this is beer!"

Now, I'm not just trying to get you to drink any old beer. I am a beer chick, NOT a chick beer drinker. Chick beers are the ultra l-i-t-e beers of our society: the low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar, iced, diced and spliced versions of what real beer is meant to be.
A lot of people get confused when I talk about chick beer because they automatically assume that I am including fruity beer in that category. I am not. Fruit and spices have been used for centuries adding balance and delicious character to beer. On that note, I'll move ahead to the:


Lindeman's Peche Lambic:

Lambic is a special style of beer that uses "spontaneous" or "wild fermentation," which means that the yeast that occurs naturally in the air is what makes the alcohol in the beer. Lambic yeast only occurs naturally in the Senne Valley in Belgium (just south of Brussels) and provides Lambics with a nice dry and tart acidity. That's where the fruit comes in. Mascerated fruit is added to balance the acidity by providing a delightful sweetness to the beer.

The most common fruits used are cherries (called kriek) and raspberries (framboise), but there is no end to the creativity used by native brewers who employ apples (pomme), blackcurrants (cassis) and for the one I'm recommending, peaches (peche).

Like a good ripe fruit, Lambics should be both sweet and tart. While some brewers go a bit too sweet, Lindeman's is a good example of that balance. The Peche is my favorite. Its golden in color with a big fresh peach nose, very champagne-y in its qualities.

Pair It: Contrary to popular belief, wine is rarely good with dessert. Not even the come-back-kid dessert wine. Try the Peche Lambic with a piece of chocolate, some peach cobbler, pear tarts, peach melba, panna cotta, and CHEESECAKE....forget about it. Pair the Peche with some savory treats like salad Nicoise, chicken crepes...and I'm going to sound crazy here, but one of my favorite pairings for the Peche Lambic...Egg Rolls!

Serve It: This beer needs a little style. Lambics are traditionally served in a specialty flute, so break out the champagne glasses for this baby.

Have Fun:
Use the Peche Lambic between courses as a palate-cleanser instead of sorbet. Have the Peche Lambic at a brunch or shower instead of Mimosas. Give the girls a delightful treat, let them oooh and aah....and THEN tell them its beer.

Start with this one. Try it. We'll take it slow. Baby steps.
Trust me, you'll love it. And then we're OFF into the wild beer yonder!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ladies: Forget What You Know About Beer

So there are bikini clad girls, monster rock guitar chords and sparks. There's a famous dog somewhere close. You hear the words "hell yeah." Where are you? No, not the snakepit of the Indy 500, you're in a typical mass-market beer commercial. Booo.

Ladies ...this is not what I'm about here. Women who appreciate beer are not the mindless cheerleading twins or biker babes presented in the media. There is a whole secret and sacred world of fabulous beer out there just waiting for us to taste and embrace.

Most women, who have not been exposed to this secret world of beer, call me crazy. They tell me that they "aren't beer drinkers" and never will be. Once I've taken a woman on what I call "The Beer Journey," I'm usually lauded with astonished gratitude. Women find this beer knowledge empowering and thrilling. I've never NOT had a convert.

Forget what you've ever known about beer. I'm about to throw open the doors wide to a whole new world.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer."

-Abraham Lincoln