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Archive for September, 2008

After taking a kick-ass tour and enjoying a tasting flight of beer at the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton – my friend and I made the trek down to the Dogfish Head Brewpub (called DFH Brewing & Eats) in Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Along the way we stopped off at an enormous liquor store (whose name currently escapes me) in hopes of finding the extremely coveted Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA. Despite my excess begging and threats to handcuff myself to the bar, the actual DFH brewery did not have one single bottle of 120 minute on hand.

DFH was lucky – this time. I was able to locate a few bottles of 120 Minute IPA at local liquor store and did not have to handcuff myself to the bar in protest!

While at the liquor store, I also picked up a bottle of World Wide Stout and Rogue’s latest release – DOUBLE DEAD GUY ALE.

After the brief – yet successful – stop at the liquor store, it was on to Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats for some brews and eats!

The Dogfish Head Brewpub is the original location of the DFH Craft Brewery. The teeny tiny little brewpub was the sole production facility for all of Dogfish Head’s beers for several years – until demand exceeded production SO MUCH that DFH was forced to expand into its operations to its current brewery in Milton, DE.

After Dogfish Head relocated its brewing operations to Milton, Dogfish Head replaced its brewing equipment upstairs in the brewpub with small pot still. Dogfish Brewing & Eats is currently Delaware’s ONLY legal distillery. Although small, it does produce enough to liquor to sell throughout the state – in limited quantities.

Here is a little more information about DFH Brewing & Eats. Source: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.

Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in downtown Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is where Dogfish Head all began back in 1995. It’s a cozy place, finished with antique barn wood and great old black & white photos – a great place to meet friends for a beer, a meal, or just stop by to hear some of the live, original music we book every weekend!

The menu features lots of tasty wood-grilled food – pizzas, seafood and steaks are our specialties, but we do some mean salads too!

Our small experimental brewery is housed in the Rehoboth Beach brewpub, so we always have something interesting on tap or in the fermenters. Upstairs is the state’s only legal distillery where we make lots of hand-crafted spirits.

Since prior to my Dogfish Head visit I had tasted just about every DFH beer that was available to me, I was extremely intrigued by its spirits.

Now, EVERYONE knows that the Beer Wench loves beer. That is a given. Most know that I also love wine. What most do not know is that I am OBSESSED with the Bloody Mary. In fact, I have dreams of owning my own bar with an extensive Bloody Mary list. But more on that another time.

And so, it was only natural that I order one of Dogfish Head’s own Bloody Marys – made with a housemade Bloody Mary mix and house distilled Blue Hen Vodka.

The vodka was ultra smooth and the Bloody Mary mix was very delightful. For a brewing company, this drink was pretty damn tasty. (Although it was not as spicy as I would have liked!)

My friend ordered a rum & coke with the housemade Honey Rum. Personally, I am not a fan of rum & coke. In fact, I detest the drink. Yet, for the sake of research – I gave it a taste. The Honey Rum was extremely delicious and ALMOST made the drink bearable!

By this point, the Beer Wench was starved and craving some wood fired pizza. There were a lot of tasty combinations to choose from as well as an option to create your own. Dogfish Head makes all of its pizzas with crust made from bits of wheat, barley and pre-fermented ale “to impart a rich earthy taste.” All the pizzas are available with either basil pesto, red sauce, or olive oil & fresh garlic.

Being in the Chesapeake Bay area, it was common sense to choose “The Chesapeake” pizza. The incredients included: Lump crab, asparagus, vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh basil. I chose red sauce for the base.

After scarfing down The Chesapeake pizza and my Blue Hen Bloody Mary, I decided to give myself a self run tour of the brewpub. Here are some pictures from my adventure:

Decoration upstairs in the brewpub!

Mmmm barley.

The upstairs

The Wench is all ALE baby … ALL ALE!

Article on the wall

Another article

Kiss goodbye for Sam Caglione, MY BEER HERO!

BIG THANKS to my good friend Chris, who shuttled me around to the DFH Brewery and Brewpub! Good times! Great memories! Amazing beers!

I will be back soon! GUARANTEED!

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Where did we last leave off?

Ah yes, now I remember …

Last week I made the bold decision to leave the state of Ohio – never to return again. (Well that is a BIG lie. Being an Ohio State alumni and a wickedly obsessed Buckeye football fan, it is guaranteed that I will return on multiple occasions for games. Moving on …)

And so last Monday I packed up my car with only my essentials and embarked upon a road trip to my new home in Orlando, FL. First stop was a Twitter friend‘s house in Downington, PA – complete with a VIP tour of Victory Brewing Co. as well as my first experience eating BACON! (Another story for another time!)

This brings us to day two. A day that will forever live in Beer Wench infamy. The day I toured my favorite craft brewery in the whole entire country. The day I met Sir Hopsalot. The day I visited DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY!!!

Luckily, I had a good friend from college that lived about a hour north Milton, DE – where the Dogfish Head Brewery is located. He offered to join me on the tour and then crash at his place. In return, I treated him to dinner and drinks at the Dogfish Head Brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, DE. The brewpub experience deserves a blog of its own. SO, without further ado, I present to you …

Wenchie’s Dogfish Head Brewery tour!!!

THE DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY(and yes, I am peeing in my pants – correction – I am peeing in my spandex leggings right about now)

CHALK BOARD on the wall at the entrance listing all the beers that DFH is featuring on tap at the brewpub.

GIGANTIC BANNER advertising Dogfish Head’s newest ale creation – Theobroma. Ironically, this beer had just been bottled THE DAY BEFORE I arrived and was neither available for tasting nor sale. BUMMER man.

The LIST OF BEERS we were going to taste (for free!!!) after the brewery tour. (It was enough incentive to keep my mouth shut and ask as few questions as possible! Lucky for me, I am very familiar with the Dogfish Head story, beers and brewing process – so I had no questions!) Mmm … MIDAS TOUCH on DRAFT! SCORE!

Our SUPER AWESOME tour guide Jill. She was a total stud. She told us that out of th 1,400 craft breweries in the United States, Dogfish Head is currently the 25th largest.

Jill also informed us that Dogfish Head is known for two huge differentiating factors:

ONE: Dogfish Head uses more HOPS PER BARREL than ANY other brewery in the world.

TWO: Dogfish Head is infamous for adding unique and exotic ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS to their ales.

I want you to meet my little friend, SIR HOPS A LOT. Are you familiar with Dogfish Head’s infamous line of IPAs? Aka … the 60 minute IPA, the 90 minute IPA and the OH SO COVETED 120 minute IPA? Do you know how they got their names?

Dogfish Head is the ONLY brewing company that continuously hops its beer. This is because its founder and owner, Sam Caglione, INVENTED and TRADEMARKED the continuous hopping process.

Typically, brewers only add hops during two points of the brewing process – once in the beginning and then again at the end. Once upon a time, Sam was watching a cooking show and the chef was preparing soup. The chef on the show emphasized the importance of slowly and continuously adding the pepper throughout the cooking process. He said that continuously peppering the soup would yield better flavor than just adding it all at once.

And then a light bulb went off in Sam’s head … instead of adding the hops all at once, why not try to continuously hop the beer over a set period of time? This is how the 60 minute ale was born. The first time Sam brewed 60 Minute IPA used an old vibrating tabletop football game that he found at a garage sale. He put the game over the brew kettle and covered the surface with hops. The little plastic football players shook and spun their way down the field, continuously distributing hops into the kettle over a 60 minute time period.

Obviously, an old plastic game from the 80’s was not the most efficient tool for the continuous hopping process. So Sam decided to build his own apparatus to do the job. The first model was SIR HOPS A LOT.

This is me and my new boy friend – SIR HOPS A LOT

Sign on the ORIGINAL KEGGING LINE

Sign on the ORIGINAL BOTTLING LINE

Mmm roasted barley …

Jill explaining how Dogfish Head sends its used mash to local farmers, who feed it to their cattle. AND THEN, Dogfish Head buys the cattle meat for the steaks and burgers at the brewpub. Circle of life anyone?

Dogfish Head’s current brewing line … where the magic starts!

THE HEAT EXCHANGER! This system is freaking awesome. Before it can be fermented, the wort must first be cooled down to yeast pitching temperature. The large steel barrels are filled with cold water. The super hot wort flows through the pipes in the barrels of cold water which yields 2 results: 1. the wort is cooled and 2. the water in the steel barrels are heated.

Dogfish Head then uses the hot water to produce more wort. Since boiling large quantities of water takes a lot of energy, this heat exchanger saves a HUGE amount of energy.

Dogfish Head also has its own water wells on site and does not require water from any other sources. All “waste” water (from cleaning etc.) goes to the local farmers for irrigation. NEAT-O!

UH OH. Wenchie found the barrel of Dogfish Head 120 IPA – aka THE HOLY GRAIL FOR HOPHEADS. SAVE SOME FOR THE OTHERS!

BATHROOM BREAK!

Other interesting tidbits about Dogfish Head:

-Dogfish Head has 4 different labs with 3 full time quality insurance employees (Yes, we are talking about every beer drinker’s dream job – the tasters. That is all they do … taste beer … PHENOMENAL BEER … ALL DAY. Ahhh the life!)

-Every batch of Dogfish Head beer is tasted 40 times

-Due to its inability to keep up with the high demand, Dogfish Head is only able to ship 30% of its beer orders

-Dogfish Head is available in 28 states

-Dogfish Head has 24 varieties of yeast in the house and posses the ability to propagate its own yeast

-Dogfish Head just added new fermenters in the last 8 weeks.  In order to get them into the brewery, the roof had to be removed and the fermenters were flown in by helicopter.

My tasting cup with Dogfish Head Punkin Ale. After this we tasted Midas Touch, 60 Minute and Indian Brown Ale. And yes, they were all as wonderful as you can imagine!

Punkin was my first pumpkin ale of the season. It was not as spicy and a little more creamy than past versions. All in all, it was ABSOLUTELY delicious.

For me, the biggest highlight was being able to taste Midas Touch on draft. Although it is a year round beer, it can be extremely limited and hard to obtain. And forget about finding it on draft … impossible! It was quite an extraordinary treat!

Me and the truck that got Sam Caglione and Dogfish Head to where they are today!

WHEW! What an amazing tour … but my Dogfish Head experience didn’t stop here! Stay tuned for my next blog on my brewpub experience!

CHEERS!

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Recently, I made the bold decision to completely uproot my life and embark on an entirely new adventure.

I quit my job without the prospect of another one.

I forfeited my lease with my old landlord (which unfortunately cost me a PRETTY penny).

I gave away everything I owned that would not fit into my super small Dodge Neon.

And then I whole “life” packed into my ity bity little car and moved from Columbus, OH to Orlando, FL.

Instead of just driving straight down, though, I decided to turn my road trip into a mini beer adventure. Along the way I stopped at and toured 2 of my favorite breweries as well as took a side trip to a microbrewery brewpub. All of my little detours were well worth it and I look forward to blogging about them all.

I left Columbus mid-morning Monday, September 15th. My first stop was right outside of Philadelphia in a town called Downingtown.

For those of you who are not quite aware, I am addicted to the social network slash microblogging tool known as TWITTER. I am going to refrain from talking about Twitter at this time since it would completely take over this blog.

Thanks to Twitter, I have met some really amazing and impressively intelligent people across the world. Many of the people I follow and interact with on Twitter also happen to be huge food & beverage geeks and aficionados as well. I have spent hours on Twitter with other foodies, winos & hopheads – discussing and posting pics of food & booze.

One of my buds from Twitter -the brilliant brains behind 1WineDude blog- invited me to come stay with him and his wife in Downington, PA. They are good friends with the event coordinator at Victory Brewing Co. and were able to set me up with a private tour. This was not an offer The Beer Wench could refuse.

And of course, I accepted @1WineDude‘s invitation and went on a special VIP tour of Victory Brewing Company – followed by a delicious dinner with some delicious Victory beers in the Victory brewpub!

And without further ado, here is my tour (via photos)!

VICTORY MALT MILL. The object of milling is to split the husk, preferably lengthwise, in order to expose the starchy endosperm for milling and allow for efficient extraction and subsequent filtration of the wort. Malt milling is usually done by either dry or wet milling. In a wet milling operation, the whole uncrushed malt is presteeped in hot water to the point where the husks reach a water content of approximately 20% and the endosperm remains nearly dry, which results in a semi-plastic, almost pasty consistency. Source: The Brewer’s Handbook.

Victory is the ONLY craft brewery that wet mills.

BARLEY

CONTROL PANEL. WARNING – DO NOT LET BEER WENCH TOUCH, EVER!

DRIED WHOLE LEAF HOPS

FERMENTATION TANKS

YEAST FILTRATION MACHINE THINGY

Mmmm HOPDEVIL KEG!

KEGGING LINE

BOTTLING LINE

PACKAGING AND SHIPPING AREA

JACKPOT!

HALF OF THE BAR

132 CENTS IPA ON CASK!

GOLD RUSH ALE & CREOLE SHRIMP AND SPANISH RICE SPECIAL ENTREE

HOPDEVIL IPA ON CASK

After finishing all the great food and beer, our lovely and very knowledgable tour guide gave us a few bottles of Victory Baltic Thunder as a parting gift. Then we all trucked back to my friend’s place where we sipped on some Victory 10 Years Alt Altbier while looking at some amazing photos in scrap books that his wife put together! Perfect ending to a perfect evening!

SPECIAL THANKS TO Wine Dude, Mrs. Dudette and Baby Dudette. You dudes are the cat’s meow!

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For those of you who are unaware, The Beer Wench is currently in transition – moving from Columbus, OH to Orlando, FL. At this moment, I am sitting in a hotel room in Florence, SC.

The first two days of my travels were extremely exciting! I went on a VIP tour of Victory Brewing Company on Monday night – which was followed by dinner and beer drinking in the Victory Brewpub!

Tuesday afternoon, I visited the Dogfish Head Brewery where I received a tour of the brewery as well as on site tasting. Afterwards, I went over to the Dogfish Head Brewpub for some dinner and more spirits.

I will blog about both of the tours in the near future. For now, though, I only have the time and energy for a Dogfish Head Theobroma update!

Unfortunately, I was just a few days too early to taste Dogfish Head’s Theobroma. They had only JUST bottled and kegged Theobroma the DAY BEFORE I arrived for a tour. According to the staff, Theobroma would not be available for purchase until its first tapping (something about not being able to sell a beer if it was no available for tasting).

Needless to say, The Wench was epically disappointed. HOWEVER, I was informed that it would be on store shelves within a week or two. HOPEFULLY, I will be able to find it in Florida. Otherwise, drastic measures will be required!

What is Theobroma? You can read my blog about it HERE.

Here is Dogfish Head’s description of Theobroma from its website:

Theobroma

Availability: Limited Release – 750ml bottles

Release Date: September 2008

This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (translated into ‘food of the gods’) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds).

Theobroma is 10% abv and will be available in Champagne bottles for a September 2008 release.

Special kegs from our test batches may be available earlier in the year at Dogfish events around the country… keep yer eyes peeled!

Label art for Theobroma was designed by our friend Marq Spusta.

Source: Dogfish Head Brewery

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The press release below was recently forwarded to me by the Midest Regional Manager for Merchant du Vin. The product is now available in all MdV warehouses.

Merchant du Vin and Pinkus Brewery (Munster, Germany; est. 1816) are pleased to announce that a new Certified Organic dark lager will be available in the US soon: Pinkus Jubilate.

Merchant du Vin holds exclusive import rights to many of the world’s greatest beers, including several Trappists. If your local retailers and bars do not carry any of the beers imported by Merchant du Vin, I highly recommend that you ask them  to start. A list of Merchant du Vin distributors can be found by clicking HERE.

ABOUT MERCHANT DU VIN

Merchant du Vin sets the strictest standards for the beers that bear our importing label. All Merchant du Vin beers are “authentic”—meaning they are naturally made, without chemicals, additives, or preservatives (sometimes referred to as “adjuncts”). Secondly, the beer must be an outstanding representative of its style, and produced by a brewery of superb reputation. As a result of these standards, Merchant du Vin’s benchmark breweries appear on nearly every list of the top beers in the world.

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Okay Kids. It is time to get serious.

REAL serious.

There comes a time in every hophead’s life where the hops cravings become insatiable. Regular IPAs start to taste like light lagers. Double IPAs, Imperial IPAs and Barleywines start to loose their “oomph.”

This insane phenomenon seems to occur about every 4 months throughout the year. This year it already happened in January and May. And now it is happening again in September.

WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN … and WHY?

A few times a year, Dogfish Head Brewery releases what is quite possibly the hoppiest beer on the planet …

The Mother of IPAs …

The Holy Grail for hopheads …

THE 120 MINUTE IMPERIAL INDIA PALE ALE

And each time Dogfish Head releases a batch of its very limited 120 minute Imperial IPA – the puny little Double IPA drinkers are forced to come to the realization that YES, there is something bigger and hoppier out there.

And that is when we start wanting more, MUCH more. We are no longer satisfied with our old staples and “go-to” IPAs. Oh no, not anymore. Not when we KNOW what is out there.

Unfortunately, due to the limited nature of this beer and its obscenely high percentage of alcohol – it is almost impossible to acquire. The Beer Wench knows this well, since she has never been able to get her hands on some. (Ohio has pretty strict alcohol laws which prohibit distributors from importing the 120 minute IPA. Can you say boo Ohio?)

But it seems that my luck has changed. The stars are aligned and fate has finally given me the opportunity to unite with my soulmate …

Next Monday, I will be permanently leaving the state of Ohio to explore the state of Florida. I have decided to turn my move down South into a mini road trip extravaganza.

At approximately 3pm on Tuesday afternoon, I will be standing in the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE. After recieving a tour of the brewing facilities, I plan on heading over the the Dogfish Head Brewpub for copious amounts of off-centered ale as well as some equally off-centered grub.

AND I WILL NOT LEAVE without tasting – or at least acquiring – the 120 Minute Imperial IPA. MARK MY WORDS!

The Wench means business.

Even if I have to kick and scream and hand-cuff myself to the bar – I WILL NOT LEAVE WITHOUT THE 120 MINUTE IPA!

Now, some of you [rather unfortunate folk] may be wondering just what is so special about this beer? Well, let’s let Dogfish Head tell you themselves …

DOGFISH HEAD 120 MINUTE IMPERIAL IPA

Too extreme to be called beer? Brewed to a colossal 45-degree plato, boiled for a full 2 hours while being continuously hopped with high-alpha American hops, then dry-hopped daily in the fermenter for a month & aged for another month on whole-leaf hops!!! Our 120 Minute I.P.A. is by far the biggest I.P.A. ever brewed! At 20% abv and 120 ibus you can see why we call this beer THE HOLY GRAIL for hopheads!

In case you care… the average 12 oz. serving has 450 calories.

Source: Dogfish Head Brewery

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Boasting an attendance of more than six million people every year, Munich’s Oktoberfest is officially the world’s biggest party.

While several other cities across the world also hold Oktoberfest celebrations, modeled after the Munich event and held on similar dates, none rival the authenticity and grand scale of the original.

Unfortunately, the closest I have ever come to Oktoberfest is drinking Oktoberfestbier and polka dancing at the Oktoberfest festivals in Columbus, OH. Needless to say, that just doesn’t cut it.

Alas, I will be forced to celebrate Oktoberfest state-side until circumstances finally allow me to travel to Germany for the real festival. (This year I will be celebrating Oktoberfest in Orlando, Florida!)

Surprisingly, I know very little about Oktoberfest except that it is a massive festival that spans across 16 (sometimes 17) days – consisting of excessive beer & German food consumption and lots of debauchery.

Considering that the 175th Oktoberfest is only a mere 12 days and the shelves have already been stocked with various Oktoberfest biers, I decided that now is a perfect time to research the world’s largest party.

According to history, Oktoberfest is the result of an extended wedding reception that followed the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Balvaria and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen on October 12, 1810. Both were later to become King & Queen of Bavaria.

The citizens of Munich were invited to attend the post-wedding festivities, which lasted several days and concluded with a great horse race. The decision to repeat the horse races in the subsequent year gave rise to the tradition of the Oktoberfest.

The first Agricultural Show, designed to boost Bavarian agriculture, was included in with the horse racing festivities in 1811. In the year 1812, Oktoberfest was canceled as a result of Bavaria’s was involvement in the Napoleonic war.

Carnival booths were introduced in 1816, with prizes mostly consisting of silver, porcelain and jewelry.  And in 1918, the first carousel and two swings were included into the event.

The founding citizens of Munich assumed responsibility over festival management in 1819 and it was agreed that the Oktoberfest festival would be celebrated each and every year without exception.

INTERESTING FACT: Since its beginnings the Oktoberfest has been canceled 24 times due to war, disease and other emergencies.

The first Oktoberfest parade, honoring the marriage of King Ludwig I and Therese of Bavaria, took place in 1835. Since 1850, the parade has become a yearly event and an important component of Oktoberfest. Each year some 8,000 people, mostly from Bavaria & dressed in traditional costumes walk through the center of Munich to the Oktoberfest.

The year 1850 also marks the first appearance of the Statue of Bavaria, commissioned by Ludwig I of Bavaria and constructed by Johann Baptist Stiglmaier and Ferdinand von Miller. The Bavaria statue is a bronze-cast statue of a female figure representing Bavaria’s “secular patron saint.” She is located at the border of the Theresienwiese in Munich, Bavaria, Germany – where Oktoberfest takes place each year.

Thirst was originally quenched at beer stands, which eventually turned into beer tents in 1896.  The beer tents and halls were originally set up by enterprising landlords with backing from local breweries and have been a main staple of the event ever since.

Since 1950, there has been a traditional festival opening consisting of a twelve gun salute and the tapping of the first keg of Oktoberfest beer at noon by the Lord Mayor of Munich with the cry “O’zapft is!” (which literally translates to “It’s tapped!” in the Austro-Bavarian dialect). This event is held the first Saturday of each Oktoberfest in one of the enormous beer tents. Once the barrel is tapped, all visitors are then allowed to quench their thirst and the massive party officially begins!

The year 1960 marked the end of the horse races. By that time,  Oktoberfest had already turned into an enormous world-famous festival and has since grown to become the largest folk fest in the world.

This year, Oktoberfest officially commences on September 20th at 12 o’clock noon and ends on the evening of October 5th. Over 6.2 millions visitors are expected to participate in the festivities and consume over 6,940,600 liters of Oktoberfestbier.

Oktoberfestbiers have been served at Oktoberfest since 1818 and are supplied by 6 breweries known as the “Big Six.” These include Spaten, Lowenbrau, Augustiner, Hofbrau, Paulaner and Hacker-Pschorr.

Originally, Oktoberfestbiers were traditional German pale lagers called Märzen. They were brewed in March and allowed to ferment slowly during the summer months. They typically run at about 5 to 6% abv. Technically, authentic Oktoberfestbier is brewed only by the breweries within the city limits of Munich. Today, the terms Oktoberfest and Märzen are used by non-Oktoberfest brewers in Germany and the USA to market pale lagers of this strength.

THE GERMAN BEER INSTITUTE has an excellent article about this history Oktoberfestbier HERE.

I will be honest. Lagers do not particularly excite me. In fact, I tend to avoid that style of beer as much as possible. HOWEVER, I am predisposed to having a preference to Spaten – over all the other Oktoberfestbeirs.

Is it possible to have such a predisposition? YES. My father is a marketers dream. He is the king of brand preference and brand loyalty. When he finds something he likes, he becomes an obssesed man. And this is how he is with Spaten.

It did not matter where he goes and how much beer is already being provided, my father ALWAYS brings his own beer – and it is ALWAYS Spaten. At any given time, the refrigerator in his garage is loaded with Spaten.

For my 21st birthday my dad picked out the keg. And guess what he chose? Yep, that’s right …  SPATEN!

Needless to say, I do not love the stuff. It is decent for a lager BUT – once again – lagers are probably my least favorite style of beer.

Either way, in the spirit of the season and Oktoberfest, I vow to taste and review [as objectively as possible] a few authentic as well as a few “non” authentic Oktoberfestbiers! All in the name of research, of course …

And as always, I welcome all suggestions!!!

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Welcome to September!

Although the autumn equinox is still 22 days away, the essence of autumn is all around.

For many, the 1st of September starts the changing of the season.

College football is already in full swing. Many kids have started school or are just about ready to go back. The first apples of the season are ripe and ready for picking. In retail stores, summer clothing has been put on the sales rack to make room for fall lines. The amount of daylight is slowly decreasing and, in the northern hemisphere, nights are getting cooler.

For many beer drinkers, this change is most noticeable on the shelves of retail shops and in the taps of bars. Summer ales are dwindling off the shelves. The vacant holes from the summer seasonal beers are being filled by new releases of autumn seasonal beers. Oktoberfests and Pumpkin Ales are beginning to saturate the beer market.

If you are like me, seeing all the new releases in the stores and bars is very exciting. But, there is something inside me that is preventing me from drinking them at this time. Everything around me screams fall. College football has invaded my television and I have already gone apple picking. The wine harvest is upon us.

Yet, part of me is not ready to give up summer. I want to savor my special summer beers, crisp acidic white wines, margaritas & BBQ cookouts. I am not ready to give up more minutes of daylight.

Alas, autumn will still come and summer will fade away. SIGH.

Ahh, who am I kidding? I absolutely love autumn. I love the bright colors of the changing leaves and the crisp cool breeze that rips them from the trees. Autumn is the season of apples, pumpkin & corn etc. (Mmm corn chowder!)

I love everything apple. Drinking hot apple cider and going apple picking. I love making apple sauce, apple crisp, apple pie, apple cobbler and even just eating plain old raw apples.

And then there is the pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pancakes … aww heck. You can put pumpkin in just about every recipe!

What really makes pumpkin “foods” POP is the traditional blend of spices that typically accompanies pumpkin – aka ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice.

For The Wench, though, the crème de la crème of pumpkin creations is PUMPKIN ALE.

The process of brewing Pumpkin Ale varies from brewer to brewer. Some brewers drop hand-cut pumpkins into the mash, while others use puree or pumpkin flavoring. As with most pumpkin recipes, Pumpkin Ales are typically spiced with some sort of combination of ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and all spice.

Pumpkin Ales typically have little hops presence, with very little bitterness. They are mostly characterized by the flavor of the malt, the pumpkin, and the combination and intensity of the spices used.

Although I have not tasted a Pumpkin Ale yet this season, my favorite Pumpkin Ale in the past has been DogFish Head Punkin Ale. As with every other Dogfish Head ale, Punkin is a super-strong extreme beer with weird ingredients. It is definitely an off-centered ale, and absolutely perfect for off-centered people (like myself). I look forward to reviewing this year’s release in the very near future!

A word to the wise, if you see Dogfish Head Punkin Ale – whether or not you are ready to drink it, scoop it up now!!! There is no telling how long the supplies will last and how frequently the shelves will be replenished.

As always, I encourage you all to send me your tasting notes as well as links to interesting articles & blogs!!!

CHEERS!!!

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In the very near future, Fossil Fuels Brewing Company will be releasing the world’s oldest beer -EVER.

Fossil Fuels™ Wheat Beer is being marketed as “The 45 Million Year Old Beer.”

Obviously, man has not been on the earth for 45 millions years. And beer is man-made.

So this raises the question: How the heck can Fossil Fuels™ Wheat Beer be 45 million years old?

Answer: Jurassic Park.

Amber was popularized by the book and movie, Jurassic Park, in which the DNA extracted from dinosaur blood within the mosquito, was used to reproduce dinosaurs. But have no fear. Dinosaurs will not be roaming planet earth again – at least as far as I know.

However, technology has allowed for the extraction of DNA from animals and insects trapped in amber.

Allow me to introduce you to a real life “Jurassic Park” scientist – Raul Cano. (His research was a key inspiration for the “Jurassic Park” movies).

Back in 1995, Raul Cano (who has a doctorate in medical mycology) sparked quite an academic whirlwind when he announced in Science magazine that he had extracted DNA from an ancient Lebanese weevil entombed in amber 25-45 million years ago.

And, instead of using his powers of extraction for evil, Cano decided to use his for good – aka for BEER.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Cano – now the director of the Environmental Biotechnology Institute at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo – said, “I was going through my collection, going, ‘Gee whiz — this is pretty nifty. Maybe we could use it to make beer.”

And beer they did make … with several million year old yeast.

Using the 25-45-million-year-old yeast, Cano and a team of amateur brewers whipped up the inaugural batches of T-Rex Lager, Stegosaurus Stout, Jurassic Amber Ale, and Ancient Ale, and untapped them at the cast party for “Jurassic Park: The Lost World.”

Unfortunately for Cano & friends, the beers were not a success. BUT, this did not stop them from trying again.

Although almost a decade later, Fossil Fuels Brewing Company is ready to release another batch of 45 million year old beer. Its “first” will be the Fossil Fuels™ Wheat Beer.

According to the brewery’s website, Fossil Fuels™ Wheat Beer is brewed with ancient yeast preserved in amber and revived after 45 million years to provide a distinguished and satisfying taste.

When? And Where? In the VERY NEAR FUTURE, Fossil Fuels Brewing Company will begin to distribute its beer to select bars and pubs around northern California and will be keeping an updated list of locations on its website.

ABOUT DR. PAUL CANO

Dr. Raul Cano founded the E.B.I. and is the director of the institute. Known for his groundbreaking work with ancient DNA, he continues to press forward toward new discoveries. He is now dedicated to advancing research in biotechnology and bioremediation.

At Cal Poly, Dr. Cano is leading a team of scientists at the EBI. on the practical application and enhancement of current biotechnologies, and the development of new knowledge to continue progress in the biological sciences.

Dr. Cano specializes in molecular and cellular biology. He has lectured to scientists around the world, and has been published dozens of times in scientific journals including Science, Nature, Microbial Ecology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and many more. He has done patented work on deriving ancient bacteria from amber inclusions, and has a patent pending for methods of detecting pathogens in foods.

His Ph.D. in microbiology was granted by the University of Montana, and Dr. Cano also holds degrees in Genetics and Clinical Microbiology. He has been teaching at Cal Poly for 28 years, where he has received more than a dozen awards.

Dr. Cano is a member of several professional associations, including American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Molecular Biology and Evolution Society.

Environmental Biotechnology Institute, © 2002
Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo
Last Modified: 11/20/02

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