Archive for January, 2009

True story: I am an Ohio State Alumni, ex-two-sport Ohio State Athlete … and an obsessive Buckeye Football fan.

And if you know anything about Ohio State, know this: We Don’t Give A Damn For The Whole State Of M*CH*GAN.


Unfortunately, though … The Beer Wench cannot ignore the abundance of amazing craft breweries located in ” That State Up North.”

One such brewery is Bell’s.


Bell’s Brewery is the oldest craft-brewer east of Boulder, Colorado.

Formerly known as Kalamazoo Brewing Company, Bell’s Brewery Inc. was founded by Larry Bell in 1983. Larry initially opened a home-brewing supply shop, which became a brewery by default. Its first beer was sold in 1985.


Bell’s story is very similar to that of many craft breweries – small production in a small facility with very little equipment. In the beginning, Larry Bell brewed his beers in a 15-gallon soup kettle, producing only 135 barrels a year. The tiny operation originally took place in a former plumbing supply warehouse. During the first four years, the Bell’s crew brewed, bottled and delivered all of the company’s beer to market themselves.

Larry Bell

Larry Bell

Things have definitely changed since then. Now Bell’s Brewery Inc. has over twenty years of brewing experience, the ability to produce over 90, 000 barrels of beer a year, owns a 60,000 square feet brewing facility with 24 acres … as well as makes some of The Wench’s all-time favorite beers.

Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, a Beer Wench staple

Bell's Two-Hearted Ale, a Beer Wench staple

On June 11, 1993, Bell’s Brewery, Inc. became the first Michigan brewery to serve beer by the glass to the public. Bell’s The Eccentric Cafe offers small batch brews that are not distributed outside of the pub as well as interesting food, an extensive collection of art and ephemera, and live music. I regret never visiting The Eccentric Cafe while I lived in Ohio (something in my blood would not let me cross the border).


Depending on how long you have been following my blog and whether or not you know me in person … you may or may not know that I love hops. I love love love love love hops. My palate loves bitter flavors. I am a fan of super tanic red wines, dark dark chocolate, espresso, black coffee … etc.

The Wench loves American craft IPAs. And I love love love Double IPAs. One of my favoriteDouble IPAs is Bell’s Hopslam.


Coming in around 10% ABV, one should never underestimate the power of Bell’s Hopslam. Unfortunately for its enthusiasts, Hopslam is a limited release ale – only released in January and February. In the past, Bell’s Hopslam has been hard to find … but as the brewery has become more successful and popular – I have seen a tremendous increase in Hopslam availability.

Each year, the recipe of Hopslam appears to change. In my opinion, last year had more flavors of malt & honey and was not as hoppy as the previous year. This year … however … may be different …


Style: American Double IPA

Brewery: Bell’s Brewing Inc.

Region: Kalamazoo (how cool is that name?!!) … in “That State Up North”

Color: Cloudy (as expected), golden amber with a small foamy white head

Carbonation: Normal. Decent head, lacing lingers till the end.

Aroma: Mmmm hops. Very dry and musty with a slight hint of grassy sweetness. Its aroma reminds me of the time I walked into the hops “cellar” in Victory Brewing company… total hops immersion! If there is malt in the beer, than I am none the wiser. The honey is virtually undetectable. Lots of pine and citrus rind. ABSOLUTELY loving the way this beer smells … mmmm heaven.

Flavor: Bam wam, thank you mam.Please sir, may I have another. PUNCH you in the face hops. I’m sorry Mr. Bell … but did you say that this ale has a 10% ABV. Well, heck if I can tell. This beer drinks as smooth, if not smoother, than mother’s milk. The honey comes out after a few sips … as the beer gets warmer the malt and sweetness is more apparent. But in the end, the hops dominate my tongue. Which is FINE BY ME.

Mouthfeel: Beautifully smooth, super graceful. It is VERY RARE to find a 10% beer that drinks this well. In fact, it drinks almost too well. I could easily take down a 6 pack of this without blinking an eye … although, after taking down a 6 pack I might not be blinking my eyes too well … haha.

Finish: AWESOME! Good job, Bell’s.

Pairings: CHEESE! Esp the aged ones … blue would be beautiful!

Comments: Since I am very familiar with Bell’s, I am confident in saying that this is one of the best batches of Hopslam that I have tasted. It is extremely similiar in profile to the Two-Hearted Ale, which is one of my all-time favorite beers EVER. I would really like to taste them side by side to confirm my conclusion. In my opinion, Hopslam is Two-Hearted taken to the next level.

According to my roommate … the lovely Miss Candace “It smells like moldy clothes – like say you left my wet clothes in the dyer for 5 days. The taste is lingering bitter … even after a sip of water. Let me taste it … OH HELL NO! I feel like I just ate someone’s moldy clothes.” Well, once again … to each their own, right?


On another note … the aroma of this beer is completely intoxicating. I suppose that hops is a very acquired taste, which is hard for me to understand since I love it so much. If I had my way, I would make a hops essence perfume and wear it all day. In fact, I wish there was a line of hops products … shampoos, conditioners, candles … soaps. Maybe my good friend Gwen, the brilliant founder and owner of BEYOND THE PICKET FENCE, will create a specialty soap using hops?


MORAL OF THE STORY: Go grab as much of Bell’s Hopslam as you can … while it is still available! Its high alcohol level allows it to age fairly well … but, it is also very drinkable at this moment! CHEERS!

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“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water there is bacteria.”


No truer words have ever been spoken. Those who live by this German proverb most assuredly deserve the respect of The Beer Wench.

And so when I learned that this German saying was the favorite quote of Oscar Wong, Founder, Owner & President of Highland Brewing Co., my curiosity became peaked.


As it turns out, Oscar Wong is a pretty damn interesting dude. Oscar Wong, although from Chinese decent, was born and raised in Jamaica. He majored in civil engineering at Notre Dame, where he also dabbled in the art of homebrewing. Post graduation, Wong found himself “saving the world” by ridding the planet of nuclear waste for nearly 30 years.

In 1994, Oscar rekindled his passion for brewing and opened up Highland Brewing Company in Asheville, NC.


Until recently, I was unaware that Highland Brewing Co. even existed (yet another reason why I am not a fan of the whole “state regulation of beer, wine & alcohol distribution and sales” thing). As it turns out, Highland Brewing Company is North Carolina’s largest microbrewery. Unfortunately, its beers are only distributed in North and South Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, Georgia and Central Florida.


The other day I picked up three Highland Brewing Co. brews: Galic Ale, St. Therese’s Pale Ale & Kashmir IPA. And here are my notes:

Gaelic Ale

Gaelic Ale

A deep amber colored American ale, featuring a rich malty body. Cascade and Willamette hops add a complex hop flavor and aroma. This ale is exceptionally balanced between malty sweetness and delicate hop bitterness.

IBU: 32
Alcohol content: 5.8% by volume
Hops: Chinook, Willamette and Cascade

Wench’s Tasting Notes:

Style: American Amber Ale

Color: Cloudy, mahogany red

Carbonation: Moderate carbonation, pours a very small off-white head & leaves very little lacing.

Aroma: Notes of sweet caramel, toasted malt, sweet grassy hops … and there is something else but I can’t quite put my finger on it. I want to call it roasted almonds (which tends to be popcorn-esque).

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, low alcohol content … over all, really smooth.

Flavor: Sweet caramel and lots of malt … which is balanced out nicely by the crisp, bitter flavors of hops. Relatively low acidity.

Finish: Moderately bitter with decent longevity.

Pairings: Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Shepard’s Pie (aka heavy, hearty & fried foods)

Comments: Despite the dark color and malty aroma, this ale has a surprisingly bitter bite to it. It is pretty damn smooth, making it easy to throw back a few of these without blinking an eye. CHEERS!


And then there were two …

St. Terese's Pale Ale St.Terese’s Pale Ale

A golden pale having a slightly malty body balanced by an assertive American hop flavor. This pale ale displays a delicate hop nose due to the process of dry hopping. A crisp and refreshing beer perfect for any occasion.

IBU: 24
Alcohol content: 5.2% by volume
Hops: Chinook and Cascade

Wench’s Tasting Notes:

Style: Pale Ale

Color: Cloudy, golden orange

Carbonation: Once again, this beer pour a very small off-white head … that does not last very long. I find that by swirling the beer as if it was wine … helps to show the level of carbonation as well as generates a bit more head. Leaves a moderately decent lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Sweet notes of fresh cut grass. Notes of citrus (mostly lemon) & floral hop aroma, which is very characteristic of Cascade hops (quite possibly the most commonly used hops varietal in North America and one of the very few that I can recognize). Slight hints of honey.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied with mild alcohol content.

Flavor: Citrus (lemon rind?) and pine hit the palate first and eventually yield to a doughy, sweetness with hints of honey. Hops dominate the palate, without overwhelming it.

Finish: Clean, lightly bitter, slightly metallic, with a decent duration.

Pairings: Pizza! But then again, I always think that a pale ale goes perfectly with pizza. Hell, most beer goes with pizza.

Comments: The Wench is an ale girl at heart. This is a nice, crisp pale ale. Very fresh and easy to drink. Since it is fairly low in alcohol and extremely smooth, I could easily drink several of these in on sitting. It would make an excellent brew to accompany a sailing trip, a game of beach volleyball … or even just a tailgate party!!! Cheers!


And then there was one …

Kashmir IPA

Kashmir IPA

A brilliant, dry pale ale with an aggressive hop character balanced with a smooth finish. A bold beer best consumed with a stiff upper lip.

IBU: 60
Alcohol Content: 5.6% by volume
Hops: Stryian Goldings, Mt. Hood, Fuggles, Magnum, Willamette

Wench’s Tasting Notes:

Style: India Pale Ale

Color: Hazy, almost clear burnt-orange amber

Carbonation: Moderately carbonated with a very small off-white head and light lacing.

Aroma: Not as hoppy as I was expecting, being that this is an IPA. Caramel & honey with fleeting hints of floral and citrus hops.

Mouthfeel: Very light-bodied with relatively low alcohol content. Very smooth.

Flavor: Despite the lack of hops on the aroma, they are definitely present on the palate. Tastes of pine, citrus and sap. Very little malt … slight hints of honey. Nicely balanced.

Finish: Bitter, and fairly short lived.

Comments: Although this beer is labeled as an IPA, it does not entirely fit the profile. For an IPA, it has a low ABV and low IBU. However, I like its mildness. This is a very approachable IPA for those who do not typically like IPAs because they tend to be overwhelmingly hoppy.

Although it is pretty tame for an IPA, I do like it. It is not my favorite IPA, by any means … however, it is not the worst.


Of the three Highland Brewing Company beers that I have tasted, the Kashmir IPA is my favorite. All three were very well-balanced and rather enjoyable. I am interested in the Imperial versions of both the Gaelic Ale and the Kashmir IPA. Perhaps, one day in the future I will get the opportunity to try them.



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Whereas some people may frown upon consumption of alcoholic beverages before noon, I encourage it. (Some people may read that statement and tell me that it is an indicator of a problem. Those people are silly folks and prefer to ignore them.)

If you think like me, then you will agree that the consumption of alcohol is appropriate at any hour … day or night.

I am not opposed to drinking during breakfast. In fact, a great brunch is incomplete without some sort of hooch. Typically, The Bloody Mary (double vodka, extra spicy) is my poison of choice. It goes really well with savory breakfast foods such as eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, etc.


But as much as I love my extra spicy, double strong Bloody Marys … they are a horrible pair for pancakes, waffles, french toast, scones, danishes, blintzes, cobblers, muffins, fruit and all the other sweet breakfast goodies.


When it comes to the sweeter side of breakfast, one can always reach for a Mimosa or a Bellini (classic brunch cocktails). OR … why not try a fruit beer?

Normally, I would go straight for the fruit lambics of Belgium for this post. Although this blog is not about fruit lambics, they would make an excellent pairing with a number of breakfast items – particularly those made with fruit.


The other day I stumbled upon a bottle of Melbourn Bros. Strawberry Beer. The bottle said spontaneous fermentation … and we all know that The Wench is a sucker for wild yeast beers. So naturally, I purchased the beer and did some research on its origin.


Melbourn Bros. Strawberry Beer is spontaneously fermented and brewed with malted barley, wheat hops, yeast, water & fresh strawberries. The brewery is located just off the main square in Stamford, a small town in Lincolnshire, in the east of England. It was established in 1825 by William Brown Edwards. In 1869, the business was purchased by Herbert Wells Melbourn.


The brewery was rebuilt with more modern equipment, after a fire destroyed the original brewing facility in 1879. It was renamed Melbourn Bros. Steam Beer Brewery. In 1970, it was decided that the brewery was too old and too inefficient and operations ceased. Operations were resumed in 1994, when the brewers decided to brew in an ancient British tradition using spontaneous fermentation. They also decided to flavor the beers with fresh fruit (the process is very similar, if not identical to the creation of fruit lambics.)


Brewing in the old tradition turned out to be advantageous, as the old fashioned construction, wooden tanks, and hard-to-clean surfaces proved to be ideal for spontaneous fermentation. (The best conditions for spontaneous fermentation are old and exposed areas that are conducive to breeding bacteria.)

Melbourn Bros. currently produces three fruit beers: Apricot, Strawberry & Cherry. I cannot speak for the other two, but the Strawberry is killer sweet – yet not artificially sweet. The best way to describe the beer is jam … all-natural homemade strawberry jam.


This is why I have declared this beer to be the best beer for pancakes … pancakes that have been smothered in fresh strawberries or a homemade strawberry sauce, a few sprinkles of powdered sugar, and perhaps a bit of whip cream and a sprig of mint. Strawberry crepes would also do the trick …


Although the flavors and aromas of this beer are obviously not complex, I will include my tasting notes … for shits and giggles.


Brewery: Melbourn Bros

Region: Stamford, Lincolnshire, England

Style: Fruit beer, spontaneously fermented

Pairings: Pancakes, pastries, cheesecake, dessert, cheeses, baked goods, brunch, fruits

Color: Cloudy, light amber red

Carbonation: Moderately carbonated beer. Pours a thick, white head that lasts. Moderate lacing remains on the glass till the end.

Aroma: Sweet strawberries with notes of sweet grass. Light acidity on the nose.

Mouthfeel: Very light bodied beer, low in alcohol.

Flavor: BAM! Strawberry jam in the face. Fresh strawberries take over the major of the palate. The beer is definitely sweet … but not artificially so. The acidity level balances the sweetness nicely. The carbonation is ideal and prevents the beer from being too syrupy.

Finish: The bombarding sweetness yields to a nice tart finish that, surprisingly, lasts quite a bit.

Comments: The taste of the beer inspired the contents of this entire post. The minute I tasted the beer I thought … mmm breakfast. All I wanted was some hot pancakes straight off the griddle, covered in powdered sugar and completely smothered in a warm, homemade strawberry sauce.


So whether or not you agree with drinking during breakfast, Melbourn Bros. Strawberry is definitely a pancake beer. (Originally, I thought it would be the perfect Belgian waffle beer … but, the perfect Belgian waffle beer would in fact be a Belgian beer, no? And so we will go with pancakes!)

So if you don’t want to drink while eating actual breakfast in the morning, make breakfast for dinner … and then pop open one of these babies.


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Being a new, non-traditional craft brewer in Belgium is tough. Especially, if you don’t have a company owned brewing facility.

Hailing from a land where beer brewing is almost as regulated as wine making is in France, De Struise Bouwers is turning the heads of craft beer enthusiasts all over the world.


Although the name Struise has roots in the old Flemish word for “ostrich”, it is most commonly used as a contemporary slang term meaning “sturdy” or “tough”. The preferred English translation of De Struise Bouwers is “The Sturdy Brewers.” However, the ostrich aspect to the title also plays an important role in the Struise brand. The owners also manage an ostrich farm in West Flanders and many of their labels feature ostriches.


Founded in 2003 by ambitiously creative homebrewers, De Struise Brouwers has recieved much criticism for its lack of a company brewing plant. Instead, it “hires” brewing facilities to produce its unique concoctions. Struise originally produced beers at the Caulier brewery in northern Hainaut. As of 2006, Struise has been using the Deca brewing facility in Woesten-Vleteren in West Flanders.

According to its annual members’ poll, RateBeer.com declared Struise “the best brewer in the world” for 2008. This feat should not be taken lightly.


Once upon a time, De Struise Brouwers were approached by Chris Lively, the brewery’s good friend and owner of Ebenezer’s pub in Lovell, Maine – which has been named Best Beer Pub on Planet Earth on several occasions. Chris asked the owners at Struise to brew a special beer Ebenezer Pub’s 3rd Annual Belgian Beer Festival.


For this event, De Struise Brouwers refused to brew just any old beer. They were intent on brewing a special ale for their special friends for their special event. And special they created.

Instead of merely creating a new beer, Struise decided to create a completely new style of beer in honor of the event. The result was a BELGIAN ROYAL STOUT, which they named Black Albert – referring to the beer style (blacker than black stout) and to the Belgian Crown (King Albert).


A few nights back I enjoyed an evening of fine beer drinking with some fine friends at Red Light Red Light (my favorite beer bar in Orlando). My good friend Dominick made the excellent decision to purchase a bottle of Black Albert for the group of us to taste. Naturally, I recorded our tasting notes on the BeerPad application on my iPhone.

De Struise Brouwers BLACK ALBERT

Black Albert was brewed and crafted with a 100% Belgian ingredients. Pours a blacker than black beer with an inch of dark tan head that lingers as it cascades into itself. Nice aroma of bitter-sweet chocolate, fresh torrified coffee beans, barley, candy sugar, complex fruits, and floral hops. At the front, there is spiced baker’s chocolate, fresh mocha, caramel like barley touches, and underlying hints of dried fruits which marries the back of your palate and features a Top, and well integrated but not overbearing hop flavour. The after-taste is well balanced and shows a panorama of extreme sensations like chocolate and coffee bitters, a plum cake richness that covers the palate, and a crisp impression of hop bitters that brings elegance and freshness into this massive brew.”

Style: Belgian Royal Stout

Numbers: 100 IBU (oh hells yes) … 160 EBU (dark as night) … 13% ABV (feel the burn)

Brewery: De Struise Brouwers

Region: Belgium

Pairings: Cheese, Smoked & Dried Meats, Dessert, Game (Venison especially)

Color: Blacker than black with a caramel head.

Carbonation: Moderate carbonation. Small head that dissipates quickly. Virtually no lacing.

Aroma: Rich coffee, dark chocolate, toasted malt, caramelized brown sugar

Mouthfeel: Thick, rich, oily … very heavy. (Lighter fluid anyone?)

Flavor: Dark chocolate, bitter cacao nibs, roasted coffee beans, espresso. Slight astringency. Very bitter.

Finish: Extremely bitter finish (just the way Wenchie likes it)! The alcohol content is extremely noticeable – yet not too overwhelming. Finish is long lasting – like taking a bite of good dark chocolate.

Comments: “Theobroma without the bullshit.” – Glen

“It reminds me of a high-end espresso vodka – uber smooth, yet the alcohol is apparent.” -The Beer Wench

“If I poured this in my gas tank, my car would run.” – The Beer Wench

struise-black-albertFollowing the launch of Black Albert , Chris Lively of Ebenezer’s Pub had the brilliant idea to age some of it in bourbon oak barrels. Originally the plan was to age Black Albert on “Four Roses” bourbon barrels and name the resulting product “Four Black Roses”. The barrel aging experiment was a success, but Struise was strongly advised against using the “Four Black Roses” name for its newest creation.

Before bottling, Struise allowed some professional beer sommeliers to taste the beer from the barrel. These honored few declared the bourbon barrel-aged Black Albert as a work of art. Coincidentally, the only offspring of King Albert is involved in art. And so Struise named its concoction Cuvee Delphine.


Cvuee Delphine’s launch is tentatively scheduled for the end of January 2009. Unfortunately, an export program for Cuvee Delphine is currently nonexistent. According to the label, Struise will be offering Cuvee Delphine via its web shop as well as in some specialty pubs in Belgium.

I would absolutely love to get my hands on this ale … hint hint. I will post additional information as I receive it.


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There is something that my readers should probably know about me.

I am obsessed with Ohio State Football.

ohio-state1Born and raised by an obsessive Ohio State alumni father, I was destined to become a Buckeye. And Buckeye I have become. I graduated in the Spring of 2005 with 2 bachelor degrees and varsity letters in 2 different sports.


Not only do I eat, sleep and breathe Ohio State … I also bleed scarlet and gray. (In fact, while at Ohio State I literally bled, sweat and cried for the school!)

ohio_state_universityTonight, The Ohio State University will be playing in the Fiesta Bowl against The University of Texas. We have matched up against Texas a few times in the past couple of years … and each time has been a good game. Texas is a solid team and worthy opponent.


In honor of the Fiesta Bowl, I think it only appropriate to drink my favorite style of beer. What could be better than pairing two of my greatest loves and obsessions?


Ohio State Football meets Lambic … a match made in heaven!

The Lambic of choice for this evening is Cantillon Gueuze. To me, gueuze is the Champagne of beers. As a matter of fact, I often drink gueuze in lieu of sparkling wine for many celebratory occasions.

Those who have read my post entitled “My Obsession With Wild Beers” are aware that Lambics are my favorite style of beer … with gueuze being my favorite style of Lambic. Although I have yet to visit a Lambic brewery, the process of creating gueuze completely blows my mind.

Lambics are the base for Gueuze creation. Whereas most styles of beers are fermented with carefully measured brewer’s yeast, Lambics are created through a process of spontaneous fermentation. Gueuze is the result of artfully blending Lambics of different ages different tastes.

Gueuze is also one of the only styles that uses aged hops. (In gueuze, hops are used primarily for their preservation characteristics and not so much for flavor.)


One of the most infamous brewers of gueuze is Cantillon Brewery. Founded in 1900, Cantillon is a small traditional family brewery based in Brussels. The brewery also serves as the site for the Gueuze Museum in Brussels. It is open to the public to tour and see the maturing beer as well as to watch the brewing and bottling processes. Sign me up!


“The Lambic beers from the Cantillon brewery, which are conserved in oakwood barrels, are called “young” after one year, but they will reach their full maturity after three years. The young beers contain the sugars which are necessary for the second fermentation in the bottle. The three years old beers will contribute their taste and their flavour. The main task for the brewer, however, is tasting. He will taste about ten Lambics from different barrels in order to select five or six which will be used for the Gueuze 100% Lambic presenting the typical characteristics of the beers from the Cantillon brewery.” Source: Cantillon Brewery


Gueuze bottles are always sealed with a cork. Cantillon caps theirs with a crown-cork. Similar to the méthode champenoise, Lambics are laid to rest horizontally in a cellar (usually for a year). This allows for a second fermentation to take place within the bottle. The sugars to be converted into carbon dioxide in this process. It is a natural and extremely slow process.


When the Lambic becomes sparkling, it is called Gueuze! Every blending will produce a different Gueuze. Since it is made using an entirely all natural process, there is no standard gueuze. Each brewery produces a unique gueuze. Every vintage is different. Yet another reason why the gueuze is my favorite style.

But what about the taste? In my opinion, gueuze is one of the most tasty and drinkable styles of beer in the world. Beautiful and natural, gueuze is a work of art.



Brewery: Cantillon

Region: Brussels, Belgium

Style: Gueuze

Pairings: Goat cheese, figs, dried fruits, nuts, cheese, baked fruit pies, belgian waffles, pancakes with maple syrup …

Color: Super cloudy, golden orange

Carbonation: Little to no head, moderate lacing, decent overall carbonation.

Aroma: Belgian yeast (bananas & cloves), lemon, sour fruit, barnyard hay.

Mouthfeel: Very light bodied, smooth and clean.

Flavor: Citrus instantaneously overwhelms the palate. And I know it sounds weird for a beer, but I want to call it grapefruit. The flavor of the beer has a bitter acid component to it … similar to grapefruit. I would even go as far as to say it tastes like the rind of a grapefruit – ridiculously sour and fairly bitter. As the beer sits, it develops more apple cider-like characteristics.

Comments: This beer is super yummy. I guarantee that if I was to pour this beer blindly, most people would have no clue as to what it is … and most would not even be able to label it as a beer.

I am tempted to infuse a glass with a cinnamon stick. Perhaps I will do that with a different bottle in the future.


Cheers to the Buckeyes! GO BUCKS!

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It is no secret that The Beer Wench is addicted to Twitter. My followers on Twitter are very aware of this “problem.” My friends, coworkers, bosses, family members and random strangers also know about my sick obsession with Twitter.


I am guilty of twittering while at work … at restaurants … on vacation … and even while driving (a controversial topic). I am especially known for twittering while intoxication … TWI baby!

My iphone and the Twitterific application make it possible for me to be on Twitter anywhere and anytime.

I am a huge advocate of Twitter. I talk about it to everyone … everywhere … just about everyday.


Why do I love Twitter so much? In real life, it is almost impossible to control your environment. You can chose your friends, but you cannot necessarily chose your coworkers, your clients, your customers … the people who work in the stores at which you shop, the bartenders and servers in the restaurants you visit … etc. BUT … on Twitter … you can control your entire social circle.

Twitter allows people to interact with other like-minded individuals with similar interests and levels of intelligence. And Twitter also allows for an instantaneous exchange of information with others.


Twitter has connected me with people all over the world who share my passion for beer, wine & food. On Twitter I follow beer bloggers, beer connoisseurs, homebrewers, craft breweries, wine bloggers, winemakers, wine marketers, food bloggers, chefs, foodies, winos, hopheads … and many individuals who work in the hospitality and restaurant industry. We all exchange information via Twitter: tasting notes, beer reviews, wine reviews, restaurant reviews, beer news, wine news, bacon news …

In fact, a separate Twitter-related website called Twitter Taste Live has been created by food, wine & beer enthusiasts … for fellow winos, foodies & hopheads … further connecting them through virtual tastings!!!


Twitter has made me a smarter blogger … a smarter consumer … a smarter taster & reviewer.

I want to share all of my Twitter friends with the world! So I spent a good part of my afternoon compiling a list of all the people on Twitter that I follow that love beer. Some of them are beer bloggers, some are homebrewers, some are craft breweries … many are wine lovers that also share a passion for beer … Regardless of what aspect of the beer realm they come from, each person in my underground lair possesses some sort of passion and enthusiasm for beer! So check them out!






















































































































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Welcome to the year 2009! Here is to another great year full of drinking beautifully crafted, unique and excellent beers! Cheers!


The current trend amongst many of my favorite bloggers has been to create some sort of list to commemorate the past year. Some have written posts about the top ten blogs that they have either written or read in 2008. Others have listed the top ten wines or beers that they had tasted in 2008. Some have done both.

Technically, my blog is not even a year old. (The Beer Wench was born February 7, 2008) This makes it a little difficult for me to make a compilation of my favorite posts or blogs or even just Beer Wench experiences for the entire year.

HOWEVER, since my blog is only in its first year … it and I have experienced tremendous leaps and growth in the seemingly small amount of time that we have existed.


As a way of welcoming in the new year as well as reflecting upon the last year, I have chosen to create a list of the 3 most influential people on The Beer Wench (both blog and person) in 2008. Honestly, several people have made a tremendous impact on my beer tasting … beer drinking … beer writing experiences. Although most of these people will go unnamed, I hope they know how much I appreciate them and the education, encouragement and experiences of which they have provided me!

I have chosen to highlight the 3 most influential people on both myself and my blog in 2008. In my opinion, these 3 individuals have educated, inspired and helped develop me and my blog into what we have become today. And without any further ado … allow me to present The Beer Wench’s 3 biggest influencers of 2008.

Drum roll please…

3. Sam Caglione. It is no secret that The Beer Wench is obsessed with Dogfish Head beers. In many ways I attribute my passion for craft beers to Dogfish Head. Not only is the beer DAMN GOOD, but the stories that accompany each ale are equally intriguing. Drinking Dogfish Head is more than just mere consumption of beer. It is an experience. Each ale has a compelling story. Each ale is brewed with unique and interesting ingredients. Each Dogfish Head ale is brewed with an obscene amount of TLC … and trust me, you can taste it.


I have many of these extraordinary “off-centered ales” sitting in my “cellar” at this very moment. (And by cellar I mean the several cardboard boxes of beer I have sitting in my closet. Currently, I have Raison D’Extra, World Wide Stout, 120 Minute IPA, Pangea, Theobroma, FORT, Red & White, Punkin Ale, Midas Touch, Chicory Stout, Palo Santo Marron, Olde School Barley Wine…)


My preoccupation with everything Dogfish Head resulted in my reading of “Brewing Up A Business” … written by the brilliant founder and owner of Dogfish Head, Sam Caglione. His book was extremely compelling and surprisingly inspirational. Sam’s dedication to producing the highest quality “off-centered” ales is rather amazing. His passion for beer is contagious.


One of my most memorable moments of 2008 was my first visit to the Dogfish Head Brewery and Brewpub in Delaware. Unfortunately, Sam was not around at the time. HOWEVER, I am intent on meeting him (and his wife Marnie) in person … in the very near future. Until then, I will just have to stalk them via Twitter (@dogfishbeer).

PS: Rumor has it that The Beer Wench will be co-hosting a Twitter Taste Live beer event with Sam Caglione in mid-February. Stay tuned for official confirmation. (‘The virtual tasting will definitely happen … when and who will be involved is TBA.)

I encourage you all to raise your glass to Sam Caglione and the ridiculously awesome beers he has created at Dogfish Head Brewery! CHEERS!


2. Michael Jackson. My number two is a no brainer. Almost all homebrewers, brewmasters, beer bloggers, beer connoisseurs, etc. can attest to the fact that Michael Jackson, even after his death, is and was the most influential person in the modern day beer world to have ever walked the planet.


His books are my bibles. Especially when it comes to Belgian beers. And we all know how much I love my Belgians. Any time I need information, confirmation, further education about a Belgian beer, style or brewery … I consult MJ (my pet name for Michael Jackson). He is my go to reference when it comes to beer.

Unfortunately, the infamous Beer Hunter died before The Beer Wench was even conceptualized. His death occurred just as I was coming in to my beer obsession. And sadly, I will never have the honor of meeting him. He will never be forgotten, though. I have aspirations to keep his legacy alive and lofty dreams of becoming a female version of The Beer Hunter. (After all, like MJ, I combine a passion for beer with a “skill?” for writing.)


And now I ask you all to raise a glass to my number 2 … quite possibly the most infamous man of the beer world … Mr. Michael Jackson. CHEERS!

1. Brian Van Zandbergen. Who is this mystery man, you ask? How on earth can any one person out rank THE Michael Jackson? Why have you not heard me mention him before now? Or have I …

Allow me to explain. Brian has had, without a doubt, the biggest impact on my beer world yet. He completely revolutionized the way I thought about and tasted beer.


Need elaboration?

I met Brian in Chicago. I was in town for the National Restaurant Association show. 2008 was the first International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event at the NRA show. Naturally, after the day long event … everyone involved spent a good amount of time eating and drinking throughout the entire city of Chicago.


One night, I found myself in the same Irish restaurant as a Mr. Brian Van Zandbergen. A mutual friend introduced us … knowing that I was an aspiring beer connoisseur and that he was not only a beer connoisseur and the Merchant Du Vin representative for Illinois … but also the infamous author of The Beer Enthusiast’s Guide to Chicago!


When I first met Brian, I thought I knew about beer. BOY WAS I WRONG. Although I was the biggest advocate of American craft beer, I still had a thing or two to learn about the world of beer. And Brian made sure to school me … and school me he did. We traveled around the city of Chicago to all of his favorite, and arguably the best, beer bars in the entire city. And learn about beer I did.


Because of Brian, I am obsessed with Belgian beers. And because of Brian, I am head over heels … completely in love with Lambics. And because of Brian, the GUEUZE is my absolute favorite style of beer.

I told Brian that I loved IPAs and Double IPAs. He schooled me on what a real IPA was. And then he schooled me on the Belgians.

Brian gave me one of the most memorable beer experiences of my young Beer Wench life … and for that I am eternally grateful. He is an amazing mentor … and friend.

And now I ask you all to raise a glass to my friend, my mentor … a fellow beer lover and connoisseur … Brian Van Zandbergen. Thanks, Brian. You have inspired me in more ways than you will ever know. I look forward to visiting you in Chicago sometime in the near future! Cheers!

And so kids … we begin a brand spanking new year. Cheers to making this year better than the last!


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