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Posts Tagged ‘Beer Wench’

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!

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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.

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The Wench & Chef David Vagasky

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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 …

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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

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

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

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Mmmmmmm beer.

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

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Mussels steamed in garlic & Boston Lager. Absolutely delicious!

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

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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 :)

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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

Ridiclous. Absolutely ridiculous.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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