Wednesday, November 11, 2009


My friend and neighbor Tom Sparks asked me to help him out on this great piece about beer for that got picked up by ABC! Sadly, he didn't get to see it because just weeks later on November 5, he passed away from a stroke at age 33! The day we shot this was filled with beer and laughter, as most of my time was with Tom. He will be missed. Please check out his piece called "Cheers, Being A Healthy Beer Drinker."

Tom's stroke was caused by a condition called antiphospholipid antibody syndrome (APS), a disease that causes unnatural clotting of the blood. If you would like to donate to the APS Foundation of America, the only nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to bringing awareness to APS, go to

Friday, November 6, 2009


This is the third installment of our (along with my writing partner Hallie Beaune) stint as guest bloggers at's author blog. We've had fun and gotten a lot of great feedback. Thanks to those of you who read and please read below for our final Penguin blog...

A Fresh Take On Tradition
Getting together with friends and family over the holidays can be full of conflicting feelings; You love your relatives, you want them to go home immediately. You appreciate the wisdom of your parents, you want them to stop telling you where you went wrong. You're happy to blow off steam at the annual office Christmas party, you don't want to see Suzy from accounting get drunk and remove her top. Holiday gatherings often fill one with the desire to find another strong drink or the door, or both. And if you are giving into ritual, you may want to host your own gathering, but feel a bit uninspired while watching the cranberry sauce slowly slide out of the can into the pot.

Enter beer: a breath of fresh air in the cold weather. An offering that will make your holiday party stand out among all others. Pairing beer with classic holiday dishes keeps the boredom out and enhances the food as well as any wine or spirit could. In fact, slipping some craft beer in next to traditional dishes is a great way to educate your guests' palates. And this time of year is full of fall/winter ales that hold all of the flavors of the season: Pumpkin, nutmeg, fig, pine trees, etc. Here are a few pairing suggestions we offer as a way around the ordinary holiday happenings.

  • Turkey and Stuffing that Won't Make You Yawn: This dish transforms when paired with Craftsman Triple White Sage. This is a mean recommendation because you can only get this beer on tap around Los Angeles, as it is a local brewery that doesn't bottle yet. This is a Belgian Tripel brewed with handpicked sage, perfect for picking up the spices on stuffing and the earthy flavor of roasted turkey. 9% Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
  • Don't Throw out that Fruit Cake: Paired with a Scaldis Noel, a seasonal Belgian Ale with complex flavors of spice, dried fruit and caramel, and a big 12% ABV, makes you a lot happier that your Aunt Betty sent you yet another tin.
  • Pumpkin Pie with a Kick: Pair this with Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale, a beer made with pumpkin that offers notes of allspice and brown sugar. At 7% ABV, this beer adds a nice kick and magnifies the rich flavors of this old ubiquitous favorite.
  • Latkes Like You've Never Seen Them: Potato pancakes are delicious with applesauce, we suggest ditching the sauce and buying a bottle of Unibrioue Ephemere, a beer from Chambly Quebec that is brewed with apples and coriander. Not too sweet like cider, but full of apple flavor and a crisp, clean mouthfeel that lifts those Latkes up to a new level.
  • Those Sugar Cookies In Various Shapes: You can't resist making these for your holiday party, but if you Try this with Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice. This Winter Warmer tastes like creme brulee and caramel and, well, sugar cookies. Even when these babies go stale, you will still be happy eating one chased by this beer.
Try some of these suggestions and you won't be sorry. Pair with pride, and you'll turn holiday tradition on its head with the addition of wonderful and seasonal craft and artisanal beers. But, of course, along with the introduction of new aspects of celebration comes responsibility. Make sure that you tell Uncle Frank that drinking one Scaldis Noel is like drinking three (or four) Keystone Lights. Lord knows we don't want the same thing that happened last year happening again this year, that's for sure!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


My writing partner, Hallie Beaune, and I - aka your favorite beer chicks - are guest bloggers this week on The Penguin Group's blog! Check out what we wrote about our love of pairing food with beer..

Foods That Taste Better With Beer
Tue, 11/03/2009

(View entire post here)
We're not haters. Just because we're beer lovers doesn't mean that we dislike wine. (Lovers, not fighters...) We're big fans of fermented grape-juice. We admire wine's nuance and mystique. We have bottles of Bordeaux aging alongside our beer collections. The bottom line, however, is that beer just happens to be more versatile in flavor profiles. It simply offers a wider breadth of flavors than wine. (We're prepared for some angry letters.) There are some beers as sour as a kumquat or fresh yogurt, there are beers with pine tree resin flavors that coat the tongue. There are beers that taste like a shot of espresso and others brewed with coriander and juniper. Beer's many flavors and styles are liberating and pair well with a plethora of foods. This is why we knew that part of our book had to be devoted to beer's relationship with food - why we discuss the beauty of the beer dinner - and why we called upon chefs to share recipes that use beer as an ingredient. Beer belongs with food. If you're just delving into the craft beer world and are beginning to move your beer pairings beyond bar menu items like Buffalo wings and chili cheese fries, be prepared to taste food again for the first time.

Here are five foods that we feel pair best with beer. Skeptics, it's time to zip it, and let your taste buds decide. Beer lovers be prepared for validation.

1) Grilled Artichokes - Notoriously difficult to pair with wine, artichokes make most wines taste sweet due to a complex compound (cynarin) that affects our taste buds. Indeed, the flavors of an artichoke are difficult to describe, but a Saison can be a perfect pairing with its citrus and spicy notes that enhance the artichoke's flavors. Just imagine a squeeze of lemon and a dash of pepper.

2) Spicy Curry - Heat is hard to handle, especially with red wine. Some whites work well enough, but they lack the beer's bubbles that help ease a fiery tongue. Try a Belgian Golden Ale, or a beer brewed with spices used in Indian foods, like coriander and clove (perhaps a Witbier). Let the beer pick up the sweetness of those spices while maintaining a dry hop backbone for the full flavor and cool, prickly bubbles to help cut the heat. Or go another way and try a Belgian IPA (not to be confused with an American India Pale Ale or IPA), a style known for a dry hop that can slice through big and bold flavors.

3) Burgers - Perhaps this isn't a revelation. No doubt, most people have washed down many a burger with a nice cold "lite" brewski. But that's not what we're talking about here. If you've only paired a burger with a light crisp lager, you're missing something special. We like to pair our burgers with a tannic and dry IPA (now we are referring to the American IPA). What better way to cut through the fat and full flavors of a burger with cheese and onions, and hopefully bacon, than a nice hoppy effervescent IPA? It's the bite that you always wanted with your burger, cleansing the palate with each sip.

4) Cheesecake - Oh so many beers work with this classic dessert. The richness of cheesecake, like bites of cheese itself, benefit from the bubbles (as most of these pairings do) and different flavors of beer transform this dessert. An Oatmeal Stout adds chocolate and coffee notes, a Peche (peach) Lambic adds sweet and tart fruity notes. A dry funky Gueuze adds an earthy complexity with a sour, clean finish. Just as cheese loves to be paired with beer, cheesecake, in its many variations, is seduced by beer as well.

5) Ice Cream - Who drinks wine with ice-cream? No one, that's who. But beer and ice cream are fast friends. The richness of the cream plays well with a bit of CO2, and the multitude of ice cream flavors provide endless possibilities of accompaniments to a variety of beers. Think how much better that root beer float would be, if you took out the "root" and just went with the beer instead. Think Double Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout with vanilla bean ice cream. Yes, the beer float is gaining popularity as the dessert of choice by Gelato lovers who have become craft beer connoisseurs.

So there you have it. A primer of beer and food pairings to get you salivating and thinking in the right direction. Again, we're not haters, and we've got nothing against traditional beer pairings like Bratwurst and Oktoberfest beers, but the fun in dining with craft beer is in the experimentation. You might get it wrong sometimes, but we're willing to bet that, more often than not, you'll get it right. And when it's right, it's Oh So Right!

Monday, November 2, 2009


My writing partner, Hallie Beaune, and I - aka your favorite beer chicks - are guest bloggers this week on The Penguin Group's blog! Check out what we wrote about how our relationship with beer went from hate to pure unadulterated love.

Our Love Affair with Beer
Monday, 11/02/2009

(View entire post here)

People ask us all the time, while wearing thinly veiled expressions of shock and bewilderment, how it is that two young [sic] women became beer experts? We are, in turn, often surprised by this amazement, but have discovered, through many heart to heart discussions with these people, a somewhat universal, preconceived notion of how one becomes a beer expert. It goes a little something like this: Two small babies are sitting in an empty wading pool playing with their Malibu Barbies (heads only) in the dusty backyard of a shotgun shack. They see their Uncle Billy Bob/Billy Ray/Bobby Joe, staggering in his sweat-stained, wife-beater t-shirt, take a big swig of Coors Lite and then smash the can on his forehead. Right then and there, the two dirty babies look at each other knowingly, both thinking the same thing... when we grow up, we wanna be beer experts!

While it's true, we were "different" girls - the kind who liked football and muscle cars (Christina), and who dressed up as The Phantom of the Opera for Halloween (Hallie) - when we imagined what our future lives would hold, our dreams were filled with the classics: ballet shoes and Academy Awards, not bottles of artisanal craft beer. Beer wasn't even a glimmer in our wide eyes. We didn't seek it out, and it certainly wasn't something we expected.

Our real love story with Beer is kind of "When Harry Met Sally"-esque. When we first met Beer, we hated it, yet were mildly intrigued by it. And over the next couple of years when we'd run into Beer again, our opinion of it didn't improve much. The Beer we knew lacked substance, it thought it was the best thing around, it just wanted to keep things "light," it just wanted to get us drunk and take advantage of us. But then one day, much later, Beer approached us in a different way, with charisma and style. It had depth and originality, it was interesting and diverse. It began to reveal its secrets to us. We found that Beer actually had many layers and flavors we hadn't known before. It was more than just blustering machismo. So we decided to give Beer a chance, and discovered that when Beer was being true to itself, when it wasn't trying to water itself down to the lowest common denominator, we actually liked Beer. A lot.

Then we started socializing with Beer, not thinking too much about the impact it was having on our lives, but all the while growing closer and closer to Beer. Before we realized it, we were ignoring our old friends - like that sweet, cute Apple Martini and sneaky strong Harvey Wallbanger, who was always good for a laugh - and spending a great deal of time with Beer. We denied it of course, but we were falling in love with Beer. And becoming intimate with Beer was bringing other wonderful things into our lives, like the taste for nuance in finely crafted food, local quality ingredients, well-made wine and spirits, cave-aged cheeses, complex chocolates, etc. Beer kept bringing us these wonderful gifts. Whether it was the sour ale made from cherries growing in a small Wisconsin town that seduced us, or the Belgian-style Triple brewed with sage picked from a brewer's backyard, craft beer continued and continues to reveal to us an endless variety of flavors, it keeps us interested and coming back for more.

We want everyone to share in this passionate experience of knowing craft beer. When you open yourself up to the wide world of craft beer you'll find a love that you can't deny, and a favorite beer all your own. Harry said it to Sally, and we said it to beer, "You know, the first time we met, I really didn't like you that much." This week we hope to enlighten your lives one beer at a time. It took Harry and Sally 12 years and three months. It might only take you one sip.

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