Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Beer Wench’ Category

You must forgive me, for I have been terribly rude.

mr rude

You see, for two weeks now I have been planning an intense 11 day road trip across the southern most states of the United States. And I have not even made one mention of it on my blog — for which I apologize.

The original purpose of the road trip was merely to move to a TBD location in Northern California.

Now, the trip has become so much more.

A good friend of mine, Shana Ray, developed a rather intruging idea for a market research project for the wine industry consisting of traveling across the country interviewing members of Generation Y about their wine consumption. The project was still in development phase when I ran into her at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Napa & Sonoma.

WBC

Attending the Wine Bloggers Conference was the final push I needed to move to California. It was the 4th time, in the course of 11 months, that I had visited the “Bay Area”. Each and every time I visited, I swore to myself (and many of my friends) that I would move there. And now I am finally holding true to my word.

This Monday, August 17th, I will be disembarking on a cross country voyage that will take me through the cities of Tampa, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, TBD New Mexico, Phoenix, Los Angeles and TBD NorCal.

xc-map

After a bit of persuasion and a few glasses of wine, Shana Ray made the commitment to join me on the adventure. We decided that there is no time like the present to launch the preliminary phase of her market research project on the drinking habits of Generation Y.

shana

Miss Shana Ray

ANNOUNCING PROJECT Y-INEthe first social media exposé on Generation Y and their drinking habits from the minds of Shana Ray and Ashley V Routson.

Project Y-ine will go past the generic survey questions and talk to people in their own backyards, bars or wherever else they hang out and drink with friends. The research and findings will be documented in an interactive, social media based journal of the experience, utilizing several social media platforms to capture their experience –including blogging, video-blogging, tweeting, facebooking, twitpic’ing, etc.

projectY1

The move could not have come at a more opportune moment in my life as The Beer Wench. I’m about to launch my blog into the next phase. At this very moment, the fine people from Venataur Web Design are working on developing a new interface for my blog. In addition to a new “look and feel,” I am in the process of reorganizing the content of my blog.

BUT. La creme de la creme of the entire “makeover” will be the addition of video blogs. The use of video on my blog will begin with my cross country trip. I have beer events set up in 3 of the cities along the trip:

1. New Orleans with Jeremy Labadie of “The Beer Buddha

2. Austin with Chris Troutman of “Beer Town Austin

3. Los Angeles with Chris Spradley of “Brewerires Bars and Beer Food

I will do my best to announce the dates, times and places we will be meeting for each of the events. If you are in the area, you are more than welcome to join us and I am open to additional collaborations along the way (email me at drinkwiththewench@gmail.com)

Last but not least, I am also excited to announce that I will be attending both the Great Lakes Brew Fest as well as the Great American Beer Festival in September. Details of both of those trips are to come.

Keep your eyes peeled in the very near future for a new Drink With The Wench interface as well as the addition of video to the blog!

Cheers!

Read Full Post »

As you may recall, I recently had the honor of being flown to Charleston, SC to attend an all-expense-paid, super special beer dinner co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of Charleston and Samuel Adams.

beer menu

Prior to the actual event, I was sent the invitation above — which listed the various courses and pairings for the beer dinner. Other than knowing the tentative list of food & beers, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the evening.

And any expectations that I might have had, were completely blown out of the water.

There were several highlights of the night –one of which included meeting and conversing with the phenomenal team of chefs from the Culinary Institute of Charleston.

Two such chefs were Chef David Vagasky and Chef Ben Black — the brilliant talent behind the fantastic appetizer spread.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 058

The Wench & Chef David Vagasky

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 063

The Wench & Chef Ben Black

At the end of the evening, I got the opportunity to interview the main chef behind the entire orchestration of the Samuel Adams beer dinner, Chef Michael Carmel. Chef Carmel is the Department Chair of Culinary Arts at the Culinary Institute of Charleston-Trident technical College. He is a Culinary Institute of America graduate, 1978 as well as holds a bachelor’s degree from Long Island University, master’s degree at National-Louis University and he is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.

culinary-of-charleston

The music in the background of the video is fairly loud, which makes the interview difficult to hear. This is only my second use of video on my blog, so I will note this for future posts. Oh and disclaimer number two, this interview was unplanned and completely off-the-cusp. So if I stutter, sorry :) Either way, I hope that at least some of it is entertaining and informative.

THE BEER WENCH INTERVIEWS CHEF MICHAEL CARMEL

CHEERS!

Read Full Post »

This, my dear friends (and loyal subjects), is an extremely important landmark in the history of The Beer Wench blog.

I am extremely honored and excited to present my first ever official Beer Wench video interview.

And if that was not cool enough, the interview is with the head brewer from Sam Adams –the one, the only– Mr. Bob Cannon.

BostonLagerPintGlass

As you may recall, I recently attended a Sam Adams beer dinner at The Culinary Institute of Charleston. While I was there, Bob Cannon was kind enough to let me interview him.

Since I was unaware of the fact that I would be given this opportunity, the actual interview is completely of the cusp. Nothing that was discussed was planned in advance — and actually, the “interview” flows more like a conversation.

As you will notice, the interview is in two parts. This is because both Bob and The Wench love to talk — especially about beer.

So without any further ado, allow me to present The Wench’s very first video interview with Bob Cannon from Samuel Adams.

SAM ADAMS INTERVIEW PART ONE

SAM ADAMS INTERVIEW PART TWO

Feedback is greatly encouraged!

Cheers!

Read Full Post »

It is hard to believe we are already in the month of August and that September is almost around the corner.

As depressing as it may be for some, I tend to welcome the end of summer.In fact, I anticipate it.

Autumn happens to be my favorite season — and for many reasons. Autumn equals college football season, fall foliage, apple picking, Halloween (my favorite holiday), pumpkin beers (pumpkin everything), wine harvest, Oktoberfest … and lots of other beer festivals.

GLBF_version_4

One such beer festival is the Great Lakes Brew Fest in Racine, WI. This year the GLBF is being held on September 19th from 3-7pm at the Racine Festival Park.

brewfest

The Great Lakes Brew Fest is in its sixth year and will feature unlimited sampling of more than 250 craft beers and sodas from nearly 100 brewers on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. All paid attendees will receive a souvenir tasting glass.

greatbeergoodcheer (2)

Food served by local restaurants will be available for purchase. The festival also features live music including performances by the world renowned Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps.

Attendance is limited at 4000 people. Tickets went on sale June 1st and the VIP tickets have already been sold out. Basic Fest passes are still available at $39 a pop. They are being sold at a rapid rate, so make sure to secure your spot at the festival ASAP.new for 2009

And why do I think YOU should be attending this event? For starters, I’ll be there. And if that is not enough, then you should go anyways because the lineup is KICK-ASS.

But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself — HERE.

Although I intend on visiting every pavilion and as many breweries as physically possible, I can GUARANTEE that you will find me in the Michigan Beer Pavilion (Bell’s, Founders & Jolly Pumpkin — oh my!)

Here is The Wench’s list of  GLBF breweries that I absolutely MUST VISIT:

  • Dogfish Head (ummm no brainer)
  • Bell’s
  • Jolly Pumpkin
  • Founders
  • North Coast
  • New Beligum
  • Stone
  • Ommegang
  • Victory

Of course, I intend on hitting up as many breweries as possible. But the ones listed above are my top priorities.

If you are planning on attending the Great Lakes Brew Fest and want to meet up, please leave a comment on the blog or shoot me an email at drinkwiththewench@gmail.com.

Cheers!

Read Full Post »

So where were we?

Ahhh yes. I was about to tell you about my experience at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in the last post … but then I stopped. Because I’m a little tease.

wench wbcIf I could sum up the events on WBC 2009 into one picture …

#WBC09 205

Joel Vincent, The Wench & Don Quixote

… ahhh yes. That says it all.

Let’s start at the very beginning…

A very good place to start. When you you read you begin with A B C, when you sing you begin with Doh Rae Me. Ahhh what am I doing, this is not the time or place to start singing the infamous Bus #4 Beer Song (yet).

‘FOCUS WENCH, focus. Let us start with DAY ONE of the Wine Bloggers Conference.

The entire first day of the conference took place at the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa, CA.

flamingo

Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa

WBC Day One Itinerary was as follows –

11:00 AM Registration – Flamingo Hotel Lobby
11:00 AM Meet the Sponsors (ahem … drink wine from the sponsors)

meet the sponsors

12:00 AM Lunch with Sonoma Vintners and Sonoma Winegrape Commission (mmm fried rubber chicken anyone?)

Jeff Stai & Shana Ray

Jeff Stai & Shana Ray

1:30 PM Lunch ends (and the real fun begins!)

#WBC09 188

Eric Hwang & The Wench

2:00 PM Welcome and Conference Overview (hmmm must have missed this part since I was obviously preoccupied with sticking my tongue out …)

The Wench & Michael Wangbickler

The Wench & Michael Wangbickler

2:30 PM Live Wine Blogging (Rumor has it that our table — NC17 — caused quite a bit of confusion and chaos for the event organizers. Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil !!)

1WineDude, Michael Wangbickler & The Wench

1WineDude, Michael Wangbickler & The Wench

This event was similar to speed dating. Roughly 17 wineries participated. They were each given 5 minutes to “spiel” and taste each table on their wines. (Even I had to spit during this …) My personal highlights included TWISTED OAK River of Skulls, Shramsburg Blanc de Blancs, Snows Lake ONE (100% Cab) and Snows Lake TWO (Cab & Cab Franc blend).

4:00 PM 2009 American Wine Blog Awards – presentation and Q&A with winners. (Once again, the tongue was out of control and I blame it all on Don Quixote — the infamous rubber chicken)

The Wench & Pinot Blogger

The Wench & Pinot Blogger

Shana Ray and I took an intermission from tasting wine to chow down on some cupcakes from Cupcake Winery made with their cabarnet frosting (mmmm good marketing gimic!)

Shana Ray & The Wench

Shana Ray & The Wench

5:45 PM Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines — This event was held outside on the pool deck. Unfortunately, I ended up getting distracted during the Grand Tasting of Sonoma wines by a impromtu scavenger hunt for the “Andrew Jackson Dollarhide Ranch Medallion.” Naturally, my partner in crime (Oenoblog) and I found it (even if it did force us to miss out on some harcore wine tasting).

dollarhide

Ryan Reichert & The Wench

7:15 PM Dinner at the Flamingo with Sonoma County Tourism & Sonoma Valley Vintners; Keynote Address by Chris Alden of Six Apart. (I got the steak … mmmm beef)

#WBC09 220
9:00 PM After-hours party hosted by the Russian River Valley Winegrowers (what happens in the after hours — stays after hours. And despite the 50 degree weather outside, I did honor my promise to jump into the pool — which was rapidly followed by a dip in the hot-tub)

#WBC09 228

Thea The Wine Brat & Wenchie

And that brings us to … drum roll please …

WBC Day Two Itinerary was as follows –

9:00 AM Depart for The Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley

cia napa

Collage of CIA Greystone

10:15 AM Welcome followed with Keynote Address by Barry Schuler on “The Future of Blogging and Social Media”

cia

Internet 3.0?

11:15 AM Keynote Address by Jim Gordon on “The Future of Blogging and Wine Writing” (<– This speech I think I missed out on because a few of us delinquent bloggers snuck out the back door, down the stairs, outside, around the building, up the hill … and into the Greystone Restaurant for some kickass Bloody Marys. There is video evidence of such escapades, however, I will refrain from posting it on the blog do to its nausea inducing nature resulting from my inability to hold the camera still.)

12:15 PM Board Conference Buses and Depart for lunches at Napa Wineries (A group of us crazy kids decided to board the infamous Bus #4. Fortunately, what happens on Bus #4 DOES NOT STAY on bus #4.)

bus #4

The Wench, Rob Bralow, Shana Ray

I was lucky enough to sit next to the founder of the Open Wine Consortium, Joel Vincent. The OpenWine Consortium (OWC) is a global wine industry association, featuring the world’s premier online wine business network, on a mission to improve the world of wine. OWC is also one of the major organizers of the WBC. I would love to say that I picked his brilliant mind for ideas and inspiration but, alas, Joel was afflicted with the pain of listening to me talk … and talk … and talk.

#WBC09 233

Joel Vincent & Wenchie

After a slight “detour” and passing around a bottle of wine, Bus #4 arrived at Couvaison Estate Winery for lunch.We were served a delicious assortment sandwiches, cold salads & cookies — which mostly came from local purveyors.

#WBC09 248

Couvaison poured us samples of their Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Cabarnet. My favorite of the entire lot was the Pinot Noir. They were kind enough to gift us all with a bottle — naturally, I chose the Pinot Noir … and naturally, we drank it on the bus.

1:45 PM Napa Green presentation –We were informed all about Cuvaison’s green initiatives and dedication to sustainability and environmentally conscientious practices.

#WBC09 250

Cuvaison Carneros Vineyard Shot

At Cuvaison there is a shared concern from the staff about climate change and we feel compelled to do what we can to reduce Cuvaison’s impact on our environment. Going solar and being certified Napa Green creates the most visual and obvious initiatives but they are only a few elements of what we are trying to achieve. We continue to look into the little ways of creating change within our own organization and through grassroots networks with our staff, their family and friends.” – President, Jay Schuppert

group

Bus #4 Group Shot at Cuvaison

And then it was back to Bus #4, which shipped us off to Staglin Family Vineyard which hosted our …

3:00 PM Vintner Discussion Panels. There were 3 wineries on the panel. Unfortunately, the names escape me. They did not provide any marketing collateral, either. So I am at a loss. Luckily, Don Quixote (the infamous rubber chicken) did take notes on some napkins…

notes

After a very sobering discussion panel and what seemed like an eternity, we finally found ourselves back on BUS #4 in route to …

4:30 PM Grand Tasting of Napa Wines at Quintessa. There was a red carpet at this event and somehow I got a “red carpet interview” with StarkSilverCreek on Wine Tube TV. Check out the full coverage here.

Unfortunately, the folks from Bus #4 arrived slighty later than everyone else — which meant we had less time to absorb the event and taste all the wines. The highlight for me was tasting Garguilo Vineyards Cabarnet. Vintage? Oh riiiiiighhht … about that … don’t remember :)

6:00 PM Depart for dinner at host wineries from Quintessa

#WBC09 287

Bus #4 had the absolute pleasure of being hosted by Con Creek Winery in Napa Valley for dinner. Among many of their great wines, I had the honor of drinking the 2005 Anthology — a earthy, bold and juicy Bordeaux style blend. The food was fresh, healthy and tasty.

#WBC09 283

But the ALL TIME HIGHLIGHT of the entire dinner was the barrel blending experience. Conn Creek’s AVA Room Barrel Blending Experience” provided us with a rare opportunity to learn about, taste and blend Cabernet from 14 of the distinctive sub-appellations of Napa Valley. They also had barrels of the 4 other Bordeaux varietals with which we were encouraged to experiment. ava-table-glasses

It was at that moment I became a wine blending mad scientist :) And now I will never be the same.

8:00 PM Buses depart and  return to Napa Valley Vintners parking and the Flamingo Resort. This is when Bus #4 really let loose. No, really. The boys from Mutineer Magazine whipped out Absinthe … and the rest is history. LUCKILY, I’m one to record history … on video.

So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado … allow me to present the ever infamous Bus #4 Beer Song.


9:00 PM After-hours party hosted by ViniPortugal and the European Wine Bloggers Conference

#WBC09 296

It was obvious by this point that our little Mr. Don Quixote had had a wee bit much to drink. Yet, we could not resist tasting at least a bit of the wines and ports being poured by our new good friends from CataVino and Quevedo. There must be something in the water in Portugal — cause these kids were damn good looking. (Maybe I need to drink some more Port …)

WBC DAY THREE — Unfortunately, it ended at noon. And I did not take any pictures. BUT, I did learn A LOT about video blogging from THE ONE, THE ONLY … Miss Wine Diver Girl.

Here was the agenda, anyways –

9:00 AM Legalities of Blogging with David Honig – sponsored by Wine Business Monthly
9:00 AM Facebook, Twitter, & Other Social Media for Wine Businesses w/ Janet Fouts – sponsored by Bouchaine Vineyards
9:45 AM Monetization of your Blog with Tim Lemke – sponsored by Wines & Vines
9:45 AMCreating Social Networking for Your Winery with Cheryl Wolhar – sponsored by D.O. Rueda
10:30 AM Beyond Words: How Video Content is Changing the Wine World w/ Bob Asher, Lisa M. deBruin, Hardy Wallace, and John McWeeny – sponsored by the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley
10:30 AM Search Engine Optimization, Traffic Building, and Blogs with Doug Cook – sponsored by Mutineer Magazine
11:20 AM Discussion about 2010 Conference with the Washington Wine Commission
12  noon Conference Ends

#WBC09 315

Well, I hope you all had fun reading my interpretation  and experience of the Wine Bloggers Conference!!!

CHEERS!

Read Full Post »

This weekend I traveled out to the heart of California’s wine country to attend The Wine Bloggers Conference.

WBC09

Sounds weird, right — since “technically“, I’m not a wine blogger (details, details).

Last year, I missed the first ever Wine Bloggers Conference. This turned out to be extremely tragic and I vowed never again to miss such an event.

Although I am not a wine blogger, a significant portion of my “professional” experience has been wine-related. Wine is one of my greatest passions as well as subject in which I have devoted a SIGNIFICANT amount of time to studying.

#WBC09 315

I love wine AND I am a total wine geek. (OKAY THERE, I said it. I’m out of the “wino closet”)

I have a pretty decent collection of wine books and for some time now I have been studying for sommelier and CSW certification. BUT, although I love me some geeky textbooks — when it comes to wine reviews, I trust wine bloggers more than wine writers from traditional media platforms.

social_media

The wine blogging community is a commnity of wine evagelists, wine geeks, wine enthusiasts and winemakers.

Some blogs are more relevant and interesting than others. Some blogs I follow purely for educational purposes. Some I follow purely for entertainment purposes. And some I follow for both educational and entertainment purposes.

My love for food, beer, wine and social media has given me a community of friends like none other I have ever known.

#WBC09 337

Shana Ray, The Wench, Wannabe Wino & Wine Brat (SF)

So naturally, when I heard that a signifcantly large percentage of my Twitter friends were going to attend a conference centered around social media, food & wine — I could not resist attending the event.

Yeah yeah, it was the “Wine” Bloggers Conference … and I write about beer.

Blah blah. All I heard was “BIG PARTY out in California — where the wine flows like water.”

And except for one minor incident (which has been noted and need not be named), the wine did flow … and flow … and flow … and flow …

bus #4

The Wench, Rob Bralow, Shana Ray

No, seriously. We are talking breakfast, lunch and dinner — heck, even on the bus.

But aside from all the drinking, all the food, all the great people, great laughs and great memories — the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference was, in fact, a very serious event.

#WBC09 199

Shana Ray (@sharayray) & The Wench

Okay, maybe not THAT serious But, it was extremely educational, informative and valuable — REALLY.

Personally, I tasted over 200 wines. I’m sure that many of the hardcore wine bloggers (aka people who actually spit) tasted nearly twice as many. In addition to drinking and eating our way through wine country — we went on vineyard walks, winery tours and attended several wine & web themed seminars and keynotes.

#WBC09 260

The overall experience was entirely too extensive to capture in merely one post. I was impressed by several wine bloggers, winemakers, wineries, wine something-or-others … and well WINES themselves. Lots of hits, lots of misses — but nonetheless, lots of laughs, lots of memories & lots of fun.

Lots of fun.

#WBC09 202

Ward (Dr. Xeno) & The Wench

But, ahhhh screw it. As much as I would love to illustrate my experience through the use of witty metaphors and uber creative writing, I would rather just flaunt it through the use of a select series of photos … and one oh so memorable video (which I will make you anxiously wait to see until the end …)

I arrived in California one day before the start of WBC. Instead of twiddling my thumbs or mindlessly walking throughout the city of San Fransisco, I lived “dangerously” and hitch-hiked a ride to Murphys. And by hitch-hiked, I mean I was picked up from the SFO airport by a good friend from Twitter — Russ Beebe, the infamous Wine Hiker.

#WBC09 229

The Winehiker & The Wench

Russ kidnapped me and forced me to eat a picnic of prosciutto, cheese, fresh peaches & fresh sourdough bread on the way to visit Twisted Oak Winery. The experience was utterly unbearable …

#WBC09 149

The Wench & El Jefe

My visit to Twisted Oak was rather inspiring — and may deserve its own post (re: beer epiphanies). I met some AMAZING people (my long lost soul-mates from Twitter), toured the Twisted Oak Winery, visited several tasting rooms in downtown Murphys, tasted many great wines (especially from Twisted Oak and Newsom-Harlow), drank some “epiphany” beers, enjoyed a nice swim in Murphys Creek, chowed down on some ridiculous good BBQ (mmm steak …) and played master winemaker in a blending competition.

Bur for me, the real “epiphany moment” came after I woke up from a remarkable nights sleep in the great outdoors underneath the infamous Twisted Oak tree …

#WBC09 173

The Twisted Oak Tree

Russ (Winehiker) was kind enough to provide me a modest & ultra satisfying breakfast … served straight off the trailer of his truck.

#WBC09 168

An amazing nights sleep under the stars — in combination with great company, a tasty breakfast and a beautiful crack-of-dawn view of Twisted Oak Winery — equated to absolute bliss.

#WBC09 172

After what seemed like the perfect wine country experience in Murphys, we all headed on up to the Flamingo Hotel in Santa Rosa for Day One of the WBC.

BUT …. this post is already entirely WAY too long. Which means, I am forced to reveal the photographic evidence (with some video footage) of the WBC in a series of consequetive posts.

Have no fear, kids. I will provide you with one little (but ultra compelling) sneak pea k …

CHEERS!

Read Full Post »

This past week I had the honor of being flown to Charleston, SC to attend an all-expense-paid, super special beer dinner co-hosted by the Culinary Institute of Charleston and Samuel Adams.

beer menu

There were several highlights of the night –one of which included meeting and conversing with the phenomenal team of chefs from the Culinary Institute of Charleston. The food and the beer were obviously major highlights as well.

But hands down, the ultimate highlight of the entire evening was the opportunity to meet, interview and talk beer (and other non-beer topics) with Sam Adam‘s Head Brewer, Bob Cannon. And get this — he not only sat at MY TABLE, but also sat RIGHT. NEXT. TO. ME.

bob

And let me just tell you, Bob is one heck of a guy. He is extremely personable and an amazing conversationalist. I could have talked with him for hours upon hours … upon hours … upon hours (and so on and so forth).

Prior to the actual event, I was sent an invitation that listed the various courses and pairings for the beer dinner. Other than knowing the tentative list of food & beers, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the evening.

samuel_adams

Needless to say, any expectations that I may have even remotely had were completed exceeded by both The Culinary Institute of Charleston and Sam Adams. The Culinary Institute was beautifully decorated and the table settings were simple, yet effective.

I arrived at the event early with my good friend Lain Bradford. Almost immediately upon entering the building, we were both introduced to Bob Cannon. Even though I didn’t believe him at first, I was very humbled to have learned that Bob had actually heard about me and my blog prior to the event. (Apparently, “The Beer Wench” was a brief topic of conversation at the Great American Beer Fest … who woulda thunk?)

Bob was kind enough to allow both Lain and myself interview him. The footage will be released in the near future.

And now without further ado, allow me to present my Sam Adams Beer Dinner RECAP through the use of visual media …

Disclaimer: the following video is the first of its kind to be released on my blog. I used a FLIP camera to record myself prior to the start of the dinner. Ummm … enjoy?

Okay, so I might need a wee bit o’ practice in the self-video department.

Let us move on to the nitty gritty.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 039

Upon entering the doors to the Culinary Institute of Charleston, guests were immediately “bombarded with beer. We were forced to sample the Samuel Adams Pils and the Samuel Adams Ale.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 038

We were asked to vote which one we preferred best. And you will NEVER guess in a million years what The Wench voted for … :)

(If you even need to ask, then you are not stalking me well enough — tisk tisk)

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 042

Soft pretzels and whole grain mustard and beer is a natural pairing. These delicious knots of joy were a slam dunk with the Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 046

This was our modest cheese spread. Only about 5 pounds worth per guest …

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 048

Super sexy close-up of the cheese. Ohhhhhhh yeah.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 049

That was some seriously coagulated casein. I’m drooling just looking at the picture.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 051

Mmmmmmm beer.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 052

Adobe chicken wings and livers. To die for. Really.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 056

Mussels steamed in garlic & Boston Lager. Absolutely delicious!

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 058

The Beer Wench and Chef David Vagasky — the brilliantly talented chef behind all of the appetizers.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 061

The simple, yet completely perfect center piece.

The spit bucket was just for decoration.

I don’t think anyone  actually used it …

The table confetti consisted of two types of barley and dried hops leaves — which I proceeded to chew on at the end of the meal. HEY, hops are good for digestion. Among other things :)

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 063

The Beer Wench with Chef Ben Black — the other brilliantly talented chef responsible for the amazing appetizer spread!

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 072

The Salad Course: Shrimp and Citrus Salad paired with Samuel Adams Summer Wheat Ale.

The salad was super light and refreshing and the beer complimented it extremely well.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 073

The First Entree Course: Cajun red snapper with Texas caviar and mango salad with a mango Irish Red reduction. This was paired with Samuel Adams Irish Red Ale.

I loved this course. I would almost argue that it was my favorite. The Irish Red Ale was definitely my favorite beer of the night, hands down. (It is also Bob Cannon’s favorite SA beer)

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 083

The Second Entree Course: Salmon Nicoise — Fennel crusted salmon atop a nicoise olive & haricot vert salad finished with a reduction of whole grain mustard and paired with Samuel Adams Boston Lager.

This dish was very tasty and the salmon was cooked perfectly. Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager is one of the only American Lagers that I actually enjoy.

duck

The Third Entree Course: Pan-seared SA Blackberry Wit Muscovy duck breast with blackberry-lemon gastrique and griddled Anson Mills hoe cake paired with Sam Adams Blackberry Wit.

The duck was out of this world. This was also the first time I tried the SA Blackberry Wit — and needless to say, I was impressed. Light & fruity. Perfect pair for this dish.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 085

The Fourth Entree Course: Hold onto your seats for this one, kids.

Kobe beef short ribs braised in SA Cream Stout atop a bed of roasted garlic buttermilk mashed potatoes and paired with Sam Adams Cream Stout.

This dish was absolutely pornographic. The cream stout was rich, thick and oooohhh so creamy.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 089

The Fifth Entree Course: Sam Adams Black Lager & chocolate ancho chile rubbed lamb ribs paired with Sam Adams Black Lager.

Ridiclous. Absolutely ridiculous.

26 Brithday, Beef Tasting, Sam Adams Dinner & WineHarvest 093

The Dessert Course: Paired with Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.

Part 1 = Apple walnut & cream stout tart

Part 2 = Malted chocolate gelato with macerated cherries, vanilla bean creme fraiche and SA Cherry Wheat foam.

I completely devoured both desserts. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if pictures of me licking the plate surfaced.The cherry wheat complimented both deserts very nicely. It was not too sweet and slightly tart.

uptopia

LA PIECE DE RESITANCE: SAMUEL ADAMS UTOPIA.

This is the strongest beer in the entire world. It is roughly 27.5 %ABV. It is only produced every two years — and will run yo about $200 bucks a bottle.

And what does The Wench have to say about it?

Wow. Just … wow.

I am still speechless.

Well, folks. That is all the photos I have to share from the event. The event was almost too enjoyable that I forgot all about taking pictures.

BIG THANKS go out to both Samuel Adams and The Culinary Institute of Charleston for putting on such an amazing event and allowing me to be a part of it. I had a tremendously wonderful time. The food was amazing and the beers were spectacular — but it truly was the people who made the event as enjoyable as it was.

CHEERS!

I am still speechless.

Read Full Post »

Anyone who has ever remotely interacted with me knows that I possess (what we will call) the “gift of gab.” I talk a lot … and I mean a lot. This is partly because I think a lot … and partly because I think that I have a lot to say (whether or not what I have to say is important, however … is an entirely different story).

gab

Two topics in which I seem to possess a seemingly endless ability to talk about are beer and social media (specifically Twitter). I constantly find myself engaging others (often strangers) in conversations about both. And usually, these conversations result in me looking like the biggest geek on the planet. Which is fine by me.

Super_Geek

My love, passion and affinity for social media has introduced me to some pretty damn amazing people as well as has brought me opportunities that I would never have found otherwise. One such opportunity is a charity beer dinner with Samuel Adams (The Boston Beer Company) at the Culinary Institute of Charleston, SC on July 14th.

culinary of charleston

Little (well I’m not so little) old (technically I’m not old either) me got invited to attend THE ULTIMATE BEER AND FOOD EXPERIENCE. The event is being co-hosted by The Boston Beer Company and The Culinary Institute of Charleston with Special Guest, Bob Cannon — Head Brewer for Samuel Adams.

samuel_adams

And the best part? It is ALL EXPENSE PAID.

Now how does one get such an honorable invitation? This is where all of my time and energy on social media platforms has successfully paid off (hey Mom & Dad … look at me now).

twitter

Combine a passion for writing with a passion for beer and a passion for all things Internet … add in a community of equally passionate food, wine & beer bloggers … create interactions and develop relationships with this community … and you have one big OPEN DOOR to the (food & beverage) world. The connections and opportunities are endless on the internet — and especially on Twitter. And there is no greater proof than this latest opportunity that just “fell” oh so gracefully into my lap.

beer dinner

The image right above is the menu for the beer dinner. Select chefs from The Culinary Institute of Charleston have incorporated the beers of Samuel Adams into a tasting menu to be envied. In addition to containing beer as a major ingredient, each dish will also be paired with a Samuel Adams beer.

This dinner excites me for several reasons. Not only will it be the “ultimate beer & food experience“, but it will also give me an opportunity to taste some of Samual Adam’s more rare and less mainstream, specialty beers. One such beer is UTOPIA — arguably the boldest, most alcoholic beer in the world. Rumor has it that Utopia will be paired with one of the desserts. (I am praying that both my stomach and my liver will hold up until dessert — and by the sound of things, this may prove to be quite a challenge).

utopia

Naturally, every great event has an equally exciting & exhilirating after-party. Lucky for me, I have also been invited to attend the special “VIP” after-party with special guest and head Samuel Adams brewer, Bob Cannon.

Now I know what you are thinking — what is the catch? After all, there is no such thing as “free” in a capitalist society. Well folks, I have agreed to do somethings in exchange for a free flight to Charleston, a free night’s stay in one of Charleston’s premier hotels, a free ticket to the beer dinner and free pass to the VIP after-party. For all this, I will blog … and tweet … and talk about the event. And while at the event, I will also blog, tweet, talk — and even live ustream the event.

Beer Will Change The World

Life, my friends, does not get better than this. I get to do some of the things I love to do most in life (traveling, eating good food & drinking good beer with good people) in exchange for two other things that I love to do most (writing my blog & engaging with others).

Stay tuned for more information regarding the event! CHEERS!

Read Full Post »

Light, crisp, refreshing and easy to drink — both the Pinot Gris wine varietal and the Pilsner style of beer are perfect beverages for warding off the sweltering heat of summer.

hot

This linear pairing is unique in that both beverages are almost identical in color. Both are very light & clear, ranging from pale to golden yellow in color. In addition to similarities in color, both beverages are also light-bodied with relatively low alcohol content. They are both known for having herby, crisp, lightly acidic — and sometimes slightly sweet — flavor and aroma characteristics.

pilsner

As a result of universal “drinkability” and world-wide popularity, both of these beverages tend to be mass-produced (think boxed/jug wine and corporate/adjunct beer). Despite the unfortunate “bastardization” of these styles by the bigger corporate beverage producers of the world — both the Pinot Gris varietal and the Pilsner style can be artisanally crafted into rather complex and dynamic beverages.

grape stomp

These two styles are easy to drink by themselves, but also pair very well with food. Since both are very light in texture, body and mouthfeel – they typically pair well with lighter fare such as fresh seafood, cheese, chicken, shellfish and citrus. In addition, both beverages are a “slam dunk” for MUSSELS and compliment spicy food extremely well.

mussels

And as per usual, I am going to go a little deeper into each …

THE VARIETAL: Pinot Gris

PinotGris

This whole time I’ve been referring to this grape varietal as Pinot Gris — however, it is more commonly known as “Pinot Grigio.” Poh-TATE-To … Poh-TAUGHT-To, my friends.

The Pinot Gris grape is a “white” clone of the Pinot Noir (researchers at the University of California-Davis have determined that Pinot Gris has a remarkably similar DNA profile to Pinot Noir). The most signifcant difference between the two is color — most likely the result of a genetic mutation that occurred centuries ago. Pinot Gris grapes are typically bluish-grey to light pinkish-brown in color and produce very light-colored wines that range from pale to golden yellow.

pinot-grigio

The name “Pinot Gris” is French and its roots are assumed to originate in Burgundy, France. “Pinot” translates to “pinecone” — this aspect of the name seems logical since the grapes grow in small pinecone-shaped clusters. “Gris” translates to “gray” — which also makes sense because the grapes are often bluish-gray in color.

pinot_gris

This varietal grows best in cool climates and matures relatively early with high sugar levels. As with every other varietal, wines made from the Pinot Gris vary greatly and are extremely dependent on both region of production and wine making style. Most Pinot Gris is meant to be consumed early, however some can age quite nicely.

Food and PG

Wines made from the Pinot Gris varietal pair exceptionally well with cheese (especially goat, sheep’s milk & smoked), chicken (especially fried, grilled & roasted), clams, fish (especially white), ham, MUSSELS, pasta (seafood pasta!!!), pork, proscuitto, salad, salmon, scallops, seafood dishes, shellfish and vegetables.

THE STYLE: Pilsner

pilsnerThe Pilsner style was originally developed in the city of Pilsen (hence the name) in what was formerly known as Bohemia — a German-speaking province in the old Austrian Empire.  Today, Bohemia comprises most of the Czech Republic.

bohemia

Until the mid-1840s, most Bohemian beers were top-fermented (ales). They were typically dark, cloudy & less than satisfactory. In 1839, the citizens of Pilsen decided to found and build a brewery of their own, which they called Bürger Brauerei (Citizens’ Brewery). The citizens decided to brew beer according to the Bavarian style of brewing — which required bottom-fermentation.

Bürger Brauerei

In addition to adapting the Bavarian style of brewing, Bürger Brauerei decided to use newly available paler malts. The Bavarian method of lagering using the new paler malts in combination with Pilsen’s remarkably soft water and Saaz noble hops resulted in a clear, golden beer that has been ridiculously popular since its onset.

pilsener

A modern Pilsner has a very light, clear color that ranges from pale to golden yellow.  They posses a distinct “Saaz” hop aroma and flavor. Czech Pilsners tend to be lighter in flavor while the German style can be more bitter or even “earthy” in flavor. Pilsners pair remarkably well with cheese, chicken, fish (especially fried), hamburgers, MUSSELS, pizza, pork, sausage, shellfish & spicy dishes.

Fish and Chips

So there you have it. Another pairing in the adventure through No Man’s Land – Pinot Gris & Pilsner. Both are very light in color, body and texture — possessing unique and characteristic flavors and aromas. These beverages are best when served ice cold, both are super refreshing and both compliment the same foods.

Cheers!

Read Full Post »

Thus far, the response to Project NO MAN’S LAND has been extremely positive.

Which means, we have a green light to continue forward.

There is no real method in my madness when it comes to the order in which I am presenting my linear pairings. Ultimately, it all depends on my mood and what varietal and style I feel most inclined to write about at that particular moment.

pad_thai

My recent preoccupation with Asian and Thai foods has put me on a mission to find their perfect beverage counterparts. Gewürztraminer is often hailed as one of the few wines suitable for drinking with Asian cuisine. After some brainstorming, research and help from a friend — I decided that the Belgian Witbier was a sufficient linear pairing for the Gewürztraminer.

And this is why …

THE VARIETAL: Gewürztraminer

Gewürztraminer

The name Gewürztraminer originated in Alsace, France and literally translates to “Perfumed Traminer.” The varietal belongs to the “Traminer” family, which is often referred to as a family of clones. This is where half of its name comes from. The other half of its name – “GEWURTZ” – refers to its aromatic & spicy nature.

The history of the Gewürztraminer is complicated and rather confusing (if I do say so myself). Although its name is German, its roots are Italian. It is a mutation and distant relative of the ancient Traminer varietal, a green-skinned grape that originated in the northeastern region of Alto Adige, Italy.

tramin italy

At some point, the Traminer varietal mutated into dark pinkish-brown, spotted berries. It most likely under went a musqué (‘muscat-like’) mutation, which ultimately led to the extra-aromatic Gewürztraminer varietal. Like the Pinot Noir grape, the Gewürztraminer is a very fussy and obnoxious varietal. In order to produce great wine, it demands a very particular soil and climate.

Gew_botr

Depending on the fruit ripeness, the dark pink color of the Gewürztraminer grape produces wines that are light to dark golden-yellow in color with a slightly copper tone. For a white wine, Gewürztraminer is as full-bodied as they come (but not necessarily as full-bodied as most reds). It is infamous for its strong, heady and perfumed aroma and its exotic lychee-nut flavor.

lychee

In Europe the grape is grown in Italy, France, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Moravia in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. In the New World, the grape is perhaps most successful in New Zealand and in the far south of Chile but is also produced in several regions throughout the United States.

The best wines produced from this varietal are, by far, from the Alsace region of France. “Classic renditions of this grape have the aroma of banana when young and only develop a real pungency of spice in bottle, eventually achieving a rich gingerbread character when mature.” -Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia.

AlsaceMap

Because of its overly potent and spicy nature, the Gewürztraminer varietal is one of the only wines commonly paired with Asian food (especially spicy). It is also an excellent match for cheese (both soft and strong/aged), Chinese food, cinnamon, curry, duck, fruit (definitely tropical), ginger, ham, Indian food, sausage, smoked food, spicy food & Thai food.

ABPL1-00010188-001

Enough about the wine … let’s talk about the beer now, eh?

THE STYLE: Witbier

witbier

Witbier, called “Biere Blanche” in French, is the Flemish word for wheat beer. It was once the dominant style in the area east of Brussels. Specifically, it originated in the village of Hoegarten in the city of Louvain.

louvain

As a result of its relatively high protein content, this style of beer is typically extremely hazy. Although the name suggests that the beer is made solely from wheat, it is actually produced with at least 50% malted barley. As with most styles of beer, the Witbier recipe varies with brewer preference. Traditional recipes use around 54% malted barley, 41% unmalted wheat and 5% unmalted oats.

wheat

The Witbier style is always spiced, typically with coriander and the peels of both sweet and bitter oranges. Brewers frequently use at least one additional “secret spice” — known only to the brewer and the brewer’s “herb merchant”.  The element of spice in Witbiers is the main factor that differentiates it from most other styles of wheat beers as well as one of the primary reasons why I think that the Witbier style of beer makes an ideal linear pairing for the Gewürztraminer varietal of wine.

coriander seeds

Witbiers are traditionally produced with two entirely different types of orange — sweet & bitter. The sweet orange, available as dried peelings, is no different from the standard grocery store orange. The bitter, or Curacao orange, is very accessible  in Europe — yet difficult to find in North America.

orange peel

In addition to being “spicy”, Witbiers tend to be slightly sour due to the presence of lactic acid. They are very VERY lightly hopped (usually less than 20 IBUs – International Bittering Units). Other typical, yet less noted, descriptors include banana and clove (the typical aromas yielded by Belgian yeast).

Asian Food

The Belgian Witbier is very similar to the Gewürztraminer in that it also pairs exceptionally well with Asian food as well as Indian food, Thai food, curry, pork and many cheeses. Both are notorious for being “spicy” beverages and both are commonly paired with spicy dishes. In addition to sharing “spicy” qualities, both are similar in body, texture and mouthfeel (and at times, even color).

As with the previous pairing, I would love to hear feedback on this post. Hit … or miss?

Cheers!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.