Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CoCoNut PorTeR from Maui Brewing Co.

For some reason, and I'm not sure why, I've been way into coconut lately. Maybe its because the end of daylight savings time is approaching and I'm mourning the end of sun-drenched days spent on the beach, as if I even did that once this year. Whatever the reason, I find myself buying anything coconut: a coconut cupcake @ Sprinkles (check it out, you'll thank me!), Tom Yum soup, even a Mounds bar! Suffice it to say that I was thrilled when pal Nathalie pulled out a can of Maui Brewing Company Coconut Porter at our most recent Pacific Gravity Ladies Homebrew Club Meeting.

Wait...did I say a "can" of beer? You bet your bumpkiss I did. Craft brewers are putting some great artisenal beers in cans. But don't worry, these aren't the cans of old. New beer cans have a lining that prevents any kind of tinny, metalic flavor from imparting on your favorite beverage. Also, regardless of what some "born on date" people say, "skunkiness" in a beer has nothing to do with how old your beer is. Skunkiness comes from a chemical reaction that takes place when LIGHT strikes your beer. That's why most of the great beers in the world come in very dark bottles. Imagine how much more your beer is protected if its in a can? Don't be a can snob ladies. (More on canned beers to come.)

Back to the beer. Maui Brewing Company is in Kahana on beautiful Maui, where the company practices "Malama i Ka Aina" or "Caring for the land." They use vehicles run on vegetable oil, and many other environmentally safe practices, including the aforementioned use of cans, which protects Maui beaches from broken glass, and are more easily recycled and shipped than bottles. Because of their environmentally conscious nature, I was predisposed to like Maui Brewing Company, which is a dangerous thing in my profession and often leads to disappointment. Thankfully, this was not the case with their Coconut Porter.

This beer is delicious. It's dark and toasty and nice and rich without being cloying. As per the name, this beer is made with toasted coconut, which gives this beer a bright balance and beautiful aromatics, followed by chocolate and coffee notes. You might think that I'm describing a big beer, but I'm not. The flavors are great, but they don't smack you across the face. It's a waft of smoke and just a nip of hops at the end that supplies this nicely nuanced beer a nice dry finish. This beer is the perfect gateway beer to lead you from the summer beach to the winter fire!

Written by The Beer Chick, October 29, 2008

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I had the pleasure of hosting a little beer pairing dinner for media this week for the National Beer Wholesalers Association at the fabulous Craft restaurant in Century City. Yes, its the very same Craft owned by Top Chef judge and nice Italian boy Tom Colicchio. Now that I've successfully name-dropped in typical L.A. fashion, I'll say that the real star of the night was nice Italian boy and fellow St. Louisan, Chef de Cuisine Matthew Accarrino!

He rocked it - experimenting with beer in his cooking with a Chimay Cinq Cent Guinea Hen Consomme with a Hop Foam that looked like a little beer (I paired this with a simple Sierra Nevada Pale Ale). He killed a Kampachi Sashimi with Hitachino White Ale Gelee and Crispy Hen of the Woods Mushrooms (paired with Unibroue Blanche de Chambly.) He marinated Pekin Duck in Deschutes Black Butte Porter for FOUR days before stuffing them into perfect handmade Pyramid Pasta pockets with spiced Pine Nuts!

Think Chef was done yet? Think again! The fourth course was delicious Roasted Suzuki (a Japanese Seabass) served on a bed of Mussels braised in Saison DuPont with Japanese Leeks & transparently sliced Dry Cured Chorizo. This was followed by our first course from genius Pastry Chef Catherine Schimenti: a Mothias Goat Cheese (hand-picked by cheesemonger and guest - one half of Hot Knives, writer Alex Brown.) The cheese, served with a delicately rolled Quince Crepe, Lambic Gastrique and baby Frisee paired perfectly with Cantillon Iris Gueuze. An INSANE pairing. (More about Gueuze and Goat Cheese to follow!)

If you're like me, then it'll come as no surprise to you that Chef Schimenti - a nice Italian girl? - then kicked some a-s-s with beer desserts! First she made a beer cake with Young's Double Chocolate Stout, which was topped with Salted Corn Nuts & a sorbet made from my favorite Kolsch, the Reissdorf Kolsch. It was paired with an Ice Cream Beer Float made with North Coast Russian Imperial Stout. So effing good.

Oh, and then we had Chocolate Truffles made from Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale......Oh, and then we had Pate de Fruit (pronounced like pah de fwee) that the chef called "Jello Shots" made from Lindeman's Peach Lambic.

The reason why I'm giving you an entire play by play is so that you can start getting ideas too! So you can start thinking outside the box as far as beer is concerned. So it can make a grassroots leap onto your fine dining menus!

Thank you so much Chef Accarrino, Chef Schimenti, Tobie Cancino, the NBWA, Nancy Piho, Patricia Bannen & Alex Brown for making this such a great night! Et Bon Appetit a mes soeurs en biere!

Written by The Beer Chick, October 22, 2008

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Monday, October 6, 2008


I'm about to get a little James Brown funky all up in here today. And I mean funky. Why? Because today I'm talking about the funkiest beer around. A little beer style called Gueuze.
This super sour style has been called "farmhouse" or "barnyard" but really the only way I know how to describe it to accurately get the point across is "funky." In other words, its got a little funk to it. Haaaaay!

Gueuze is a pale, dry and obscenely complex beer, and it's not for the weak of heart. This beer will make a decision-maker out of you as it evokes either love or hate. I, personally, am a lover. But I was also the kid in school who started her own "Lemon Club," whose initiation rite was to bite into a big wedge of lemon without making a face. But, I digress.

If you are a beer drinker, you've probably heard of Lambic style beers before, and you probably associate them with sweet fruity beers. But Lambics are actually very tart, sour beers to which brewers add maserated fruit in order for them to be more palatable for us Americans, who are used to tasteless, pale, fizzy, yellow water. True Lambic beer comes from only one place in the world (the Senne valley in Belgium) and is spontaneously fermented by wild yeast and fermented in wood barrels. A Gueuze is a blend of un-fruited mature and lambic (usually 1-3 years old) and young lambic (possibly as young as five months old) beers, which, according to Brewer Garrett Oliver, produces "good carbonation and acidity while still retaining great aroma, complexity and length."

If all this sounds good, here are some Gueuzes to get your funk on.

Lindemans Gueuze, Vlezenbeek, Belgium
The reason I'm writing this article today is because I ran across this beer in the grocery store and was astounded. Lindeman's is known for making very sweet lambics. In fact, the first review I ever did on this site over two years ago was Lindeman's Peche. When I saw that they were selling Gueuze, I immediately bought it and tried it. This beer is good: not too assaulting, super dry, like a tart champagne with brief fruit and citrus notes. If you are already into Gueuzes, this might be a bit weak for you, but it is the perfect starter Gueuze.

Cantillon Gueuze, Brussels, Belgium
This particular Gueuze is a blend of one, two, and three year-old Lambics. It's got a similar profile in the way that most Gueuzes do, but this one has a grassy herbaceousness to it. Darker than the Gueuze's I'm used to, this one pours a copper orange and has good acidity, but its more of a vengar acidity vs. champagne. This beer is great, but definitely more challenging than the Lindemans.

Girardin 1882 Black Label, Sint Ulriks-Kapelle, Belgium
This is my favorite Gueuze. In fact, I perv out on this beer. Its the bomb diggity of all the Gueuze I've had. This beer is a funk bomb on the nose, but then once you get past it, you can smell, citrus, apricot, pear. This flavor is big and super barnyard sour, but damn is there good acidity with green grapes and apples in the finish. Crazy funky and yet still an amazing drinkable balance. So good.... I got Gueuze! Haaaay!

Pronunciation Debate:
Some people say that Gueuze is pronounced "Ger-zer," but when I asked some French winemakers how to pronounce it, they said "Gooze" - I usually say "Gooze" because more people understand me when I do. In my experience, "Ger-zer" only leads to one reaction, and it's "What ?!?"

Written by The Beer Chick, October 6, 2008

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