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Archive for February, 2009

Wench In Transition

Miss me?

beer-wench

First and foremost, I must apologize to my recent inconsistency of posts and … well, lack of posts.

The truth is that I am in transition. And quite honestly, I might be destined for a life of continuous transition.

I often tell people that I am a gypsy. Why? I can survive and flourish just about anywhere. This is because I am extremely driven and ambitious (and as some may argue … fairly intelligent). However, I cannot call any one place home … and as of yet, I can neither stay in one place nor hold one job (or a boyfriend …) for a pro-longed period of time.

What can I say? I am The Wench.

beer-wench1

Some may criticize this way of living and preach that consistency and stability is important. While I agree that being consistent and stable is valuable, my personality is not conducive to either.

I am a Gemini. Whether or not you chose to agree with or believe in astrology, the attributes of a Gemini are dead on when it comes to describing my personality traits.

gemini20

Here is a snap shot of a Gemini, via Stephanie Norris of PsychicsConnect.com:

 

Gemini Character Traits

The symbol for Gemini is the twins, which stand for the duality and changeability of this sign.

‘I THINK’ is the motto for Gemini. You’re intelligent, with a quick mind so you learn fast. You’re always studying something, because you’re curious about everything. Words trip off your tongue, in a quicksilver flow that makes you good at languages, marketing and anything that calls for the gift of the gab.

You can turn your hand to writing almost anything, whether a novel, play, speech or advertising copy. You like to know what’s going on, hence your penchant for gossip. You’re also witty and have a sense of mischief.

Variety is the spice of life for you – you like to be in two places at once and have more than one thing on the go.

Your nervous energy and restlessness can give you a reputation for being unreliable and a bit of a butterfly. You can also appear glib.

You are the communicators of the zodiac.

gemini

This past week I faced a situation required my immediate removal from the condo I was residing in temporarily. My week has been rather hectic, as a result. The storm has calmed and I am looking forward to a fresh start and a revamp in my life.

zen-image

I intend on refocusing my writing as well as buckling down and becoming serious about my craft. After all, in order to become the female version of Michael Jackson, I need a lot more discipline.

beer_hunter

Although I have not been blogging as much as I should, I definitely have been collecting my fair share of amazing beers. In fact, my life without beer fits into one car. My life with beer takes two. Half of my possessions in life is my beer. If there was any doubt about my obsession, I think that it can end here.

beer-before-bed

I do not have a bed. (The place I live in has provided me with one, though). I do not own any furniture. The only piece of “real jewelry” I own is a gold Ohio State class ring that my parents bought me for graduation. I don’t even own a freaking diamond! And I’m a chick!

I have a car, a laptop, an iPhone, an iPod, a camera, a bike, a set and a half of golf clubs, hockey skates, shoes, clothes, nice knives, wine glasses … random tidbits … and most importantly, I have 11 boxes full of beer (and wine).

beer-box

Many people have referred to my particular style of living as … “a man cave.”

Any questions about my priorities in life? OKAY. Good. Now, bear with me. The Beer Wench blog will be up and running: bigger, better, faster and stronger than ever in the VERY VERY near future.

I cannot wait to break open the beers from my collection and share them with others via my blog. I cannot wait to travel the world, exploring breweries and learning all about the process of making beer. I am ready to break loose … and there is nothing holding me back.

11510beer-will-change-the-world-posters

Cheers to the bright future ahead! XOXO

Love,

Wenchie

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My sister and I are polar opposites.

My mother used to call us Yin and Yang. She thought that we each had a little bit of the other in each of us. She also said that our extreme personalities balanced each other out.

yin-and-yang_

She is an extreme introvert. I am an extreme extrovert. She does not drink alcoholic beverages. I am a beverage connoisseur (aka LUSH).

Regardless of our differences, the girl understands me more than any other person in the world – including my parents. We even have our own little sibling “language.” (Pancake is one of super ridiculous code words … and only a select few know what it means).

pancake

Where is this going and what does it have to do with beer?

Unlike my sister, who is a self-proclaimed “chronic dater,” I am not the relationship type. (In fact, I’ve never been in a serious relationship). This means that I don’t do Valentine’s Day – period. However, I am not opposed to receiving gifts from loved ones.

This year, my sister proved her love to me on Valentine’s Day. My parents sent me chocolate. Albeit really good, high quality chocolate – it was still … chocolate. My sister on the other hand, sent me beer.

black-radish-beer-case

And not just any beer. NO NO NO. My sister is an extremely intelligent chick. She did research.

Somehow my non-alcohol drinking sister stumbled across Weeping Radish Farm Brewery, where she found a beer that made a list of “50 beers to try before you die.”

weeping-radish-farm-brewery

My family is pretty environmentally conscientious. We do as much as we can, as often as we can.

My sister is currently in grad school at The Ohio State University for mechanical engineering. Her ultimate goal is to obtain a PhD in engineering and she is seriously considering pursuing something in environmental engineering.

My sister is very interested in sustainable agriculture, which is why she decided to send me a 5 pack sampler of brewskies from Weeping Radish Farm Brewery.

weeping-radish-beers

About Weeping Radish

Weeping Radish Farm Brewery is North Carolina’s oldest micro brewery. All of its beers are brewed in strict accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 (Reinheitsgebot), which stipulates that only water, hops, malt and yeast are to be used in the beer making process. All Weeping Radish beers are unfiltered and non of the natural vitamins and minerals have been removed.

    Weeping Radish is dedicated to an integrated approach to a complex issue: Craft Brewing, Sustainable Agriculture and the survival of Crafts.

  • The Craft Brewer creates natural unfiltered beer draft and in refillable bottles.
  • The Master Butcher buys animals from local farms and creates a variety of fresh and smoked meat products, all labeled by Farm of Origin.
  • The 14 acre farm produces vegetables, eggs and herbs for retail and for the Chef.
  • The Chef creates meals for the onsite restaurant based on availability of fresh meats and vegetables, not based on a pre-set menu.
  • The Farm Retail Barn features a “Goodness grows in North Carolina” section and promotes educational tours.

weeping-radish-tractor

Unfortunately, my sister knows very little about beer. And become of this, she knows very little about me and beer – save for the fact that I love it and write about it. This is why I cannot be too hard on her for sending me a sampler of lagers. And many people know that lagers are “not my favorite” style of beer.

Nonetheless, I am very impressed by my sister’s generous gesture. In fact, I am actually looking forward to sampling and writing about these beers in the very near future. Perhaps they will open my eyes to an entirely new world of lagers that I never knew existed!

CHEERS to my beautiful baby sister! I look forward to writing about the Weeping Radish Farm beers so keep your eyes pealed for my future posts!

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Tomorrow is Valentines Day, one of the most useless and overrated holidays that plagues society every year (in MY personal opinion). But then again, I am anti most holidays. Not too mention, I loathe romance. And the color pink.

antivalentine

If you decide that you must partake in this “unimaginative, consumerist-oriented and entirely arbitrary, manipulative & shallow interpretation of romance” day … please do me one favor: BE ORIGINAL.

Roses, diamonds, chocolate & champagne are sooooo overused it makes me want to puke.

Although I am a wine enthusiast and aspiring sommelier, the unconventionalist in me needs to steer society away from toasting with champagne on “singles awareness day.”

If you really want to impress your Valentine, pop open a bottle of brew. Trust me on this one – it will work on both chicks and dudes alike.

Naturally, my go to beers on special occasions are lambics (and other “wild yeast beers”). In my opinion, gueuzes (a type of lambic) make the best substitute for champagne. And for a good reason.

Gueuze is a blend of young and old lambics. As with champagne, gueuze undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. If you love the ceremonial uncorking presentation and the “special pop” that accompanies champagne, have no fear. Gueuze is served in champagne bottles – cork and all.

gueuze

Unlike most beers, gueuzes are produced with aged hops. The combination of wild yeast and aged hops yields a dry, cidery, must, sour, acetic acid & lactic acid flavor. Mmmm … dreamy.

Here are a list of my personal favorite gueuzes, in no particular order:

Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René

Girardin Gueuze 1882 Black Label

Cantillon Gueuze 100% Lambic

Drie Fonteinen Oude Gueuze

Cantillon Iris

Boon Oude Geuze

Okay, so I understand that not everyone enjoys gueuzes as much as I do. Fair enough. To each their own.

BUT BEFORE YOU GO BACK TO THE CHAMPAGNE – STOP. There are still other options. Let us visit the fruit lambics, shall we?

Now I know from LOTS of experience that some people (cough *women* cough) think that all beer is heinous and getting them to drink one is like trying to give a cat a bath – lots of hissing, spitting and clawing with nails.

cat-bath

However, I have found that many beer haters can be converted with fruit lambics. (Even my very own SISTER … a chick who drinks one alcoholic beverage a year … enjoys the flavor of fruit lambics!)

Fruit lambics are exactly as they sound – lambics with fruit added. Typically, whole fruit is added after the spontaneous fermentation. In some cases, fruit flavoring is used (usually by American brewers trying to mimic the Belgian style).

fruit-lambics

The most common flavors include: sour cherry (kriek), raspberry (framboise), peach (pêche), blackcurrant (cassis), grape (druif) and strawberry (aardbei). My personal favorite, without a doubt, is Kriek.

Here is a list of fruit lambics that I particularly enjoy:

Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic

Cantillon Rosé De Gambrinus

Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille

Oude Kriek

Boon Kriek

Lindemans Kriek

Lindemans Framboise

Still not convinced to forgo the champagne in favor of beer? HOLD UP. STOP RIGHT THERE.

It is time to take out the big guns … Allow me to introduce you to my friend DeuS.

deus

Ahhhh yes. DeuS, the REAL champagne of beers. And this is NOT an over-statement.

DeuS is brewed by Brouwerij Bosteels in “one of the newest and most interesting styles of beer”: Bière de Champagne. Essentially, the only thing that separates it from champagne is the ingredients.

DeuS is initially brewed in Belgium, where it undergoes double fermentation (the second occurs within the bottle). It is then sent to France, where champagne makers add champagne yeast for a third fermentation. DeuS spends a long fermentation period in France where (like champagne) it is slowly turned each day in a process called riddling. Eventually the yeast collects in the neck of the bottle, which is frozen, and the yeast is expelled. (Also known as the “methode de champenoise” process of removing yeast from the bottle.)

The price tag of DeuS reflects the lengthy and complicated process of producing this beer. At around $30 bottle, DeuS is a beer for the big ballers. But as with a good bottle of champagne, it is a worthy investment. And you have my word on it. In fact, I will even give you my scouts honor.

scouts-honor

And whether you chose a gueuze, a fruit lambic, DeuS or all of the above … take my suggestion and “class” it up with a flute glass. It will have you saying “champagne schmampagne” in no time. And before you know it, all of your holidays will be celebrated with a beer!

evil-valentine

And regardless of how and why you celebrate it, Happy Valentines Day. Cheers!

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Awesome Beer Quotes

For shits and giggles, I decided to compile a list of my personal favorite quotes relating to beer! Cheers!

“Beer deserves to be treated as a civilized drink; it may even have been the cause of civilization.” -Michael Jackson, The Beer Hunter

“I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again: Beer is as dignified and sophisticated a beverage as any other, and in and of itself, does not make you fat or lazy or stupid or boorish. And stereotypes suck.” Stephen Beaumont, World of Beer

Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world.” -Kaiser Welhelm

“I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.” -Shakespeare, King Henry V

“I work until beer o’clock.” -Stephen King

Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” -Benjamin Franklin … OKAY so Ben Franklin did not actually utter this phrase. The myth is debunked here. But I like the quote so it shall stay.

They who drink beer will think beer.” -Washington Irving

“He was a wise man who invented beer.” -Plato

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.” -Abraham Lincoln

“Quaintest thoughts, queerest fancies come to life and fade away. What care I how time advances; I am drinking ale today.” -Edgar Allen Poe

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.” -Homer Simpson

Sometimes when I reflect back on all the beer I drink I feel ashamed – Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I didn’t drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. Then I say to myself, ‘It is better that I drink this beer and let their dreams come true than be selfish and worry about my liver.’” -Deep Thought, Jack Handy

And of course … LA CREME DE LA CREME …

“Well ya see, Norm, it’s like this… A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That’s why you always feel smarter after a few beers.” -Cliff Clavin, of Cheers

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Exactly one year ago today, (February 7, 2008) … The Beer Wench blog was born.

champagnepop

More than just the blog was created on that most infamous date.

The Beer Wench is more than just a blog about beer. It is my identity, my personality and my brand.

The Beer Wench is not my alter ego.

The Beer Wench is synonymous with Ashley V. Routson. We are one and the same.

I am The Beer Wench.

beer-wench-painting-4001

Both the blog and the person have come a long way in just one year. My obsession with beer has extended way beyond the American craft beers that initially inspired my passion for beer. My focus has broadened to international beers from such countries as Norway, Italy, The Netherlands, England, Germany, Scottland … and most importantly, Belgium.

belgian-beers

The original goal of this blog was “to become more educated on the world of beer.” This statement remains as true today as it was the day I first wrote it. The Beer Wench blog was originally focused on the city of Columbus, OH. This focus has obviously changed. First off, I no longer live in Columbus. And second, I prefer to engage and interact with readers on a national and international level – rather than narrow my focus to just one city. (No offense Columbus, I still love ya.)

Many people have had a tremendous impact on both my blog and my experiences with beer. Instead of listing out every single person that has had an influence on The Beer Wench, I have chosen to send out a tremendously huge giant big THANK YOU to all of my friends, family, readers, fellow bloggers, bartenders, mentors and so on and so forth.

The Beer Wench exists because all of you have embraced her … and for this, I am eternally grateful! Thank you for your support, encouragement and leadership!

Happy Birthday to The Beer Wench!

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True story: France isn’t really known for its beer.

Gourmet cuisine? Yes. World-class wines? Yes. Art? Yes. Architecture? Yes. History? Yes. Beer? NO.

However, Flanders IS known for beer.

flag-of-flanders

The Flag of Flanders

Not quite a country, Flanders is a geographical region consisting of parts of Belgium, France & the Netherlands.

Map of Flanders

Map of Flanders

Today, the French region of Flanders lies in the modern-day region of Nord-Pas de Calais, on the Belgian border.

Nord Pas-de-Calais is home of France’s only native style of beer – Bière de Garde. Bière de Garde literally translates into “beer for keeping” … or “beer for storage.” Like the saisons of Belgium, bières de garde were originally farmhouse ales brewed for the farmers and their fieldhands. However, they were vastly different in flavor profile from saisons. Whereas traditional saisons were lighter bodied and lower in ABV, traditional bières de garde were known for being intense, invigorating & strong. They are typically stored in traditional champagne bottles.

Unfortunately, this post is NOT entirely about bières de garde. Sadly, I am not in possession of a Flemish bière de garde. However, I do have a bottle of Jolly Pumpkins La Roja … an American craft beer brewed in the bière de garde style … in a box hidden in my closet somewhere. But we are not going to be tasting that beer at this time, either. FYI: La Roja is one of my FAVORITE beers and I highly recommend it.

la-roja-ale

Mmmm Wenchie Love La Roja

Alas, for this post I will be tasting a French beer brewed a different style … a Belgian Strong Ale to be exact

The beer I have chosen to taste for this post is Belzebuth – a 13% ABV Belgian Strong Pale Ale. DISCLAIMER: I am fully aware of Belzebuth’s less than desirable reviews. From what I’ve read, I can deduct that the high alcohol in this beer completely overwhelms the aroma and the palate … significantly reducing its complexity.

HOWEVER, I personally have never tasted this beer. And although I have visited France, drink lots of French wine and am a big fan of most things French (esp the Riviera!) … I have yet to taste an official French beer! (Gasp!)

beer_belzebuth

So regardless of the terrible reviews, I am going to subject my palate to Belzebuth … in the name of beer and research. And who knows … maybe it really isn’t that bad, right?

Ingredients used in the brew include Pale Ale, Vienne & Ambered malts as well as Flemish Brewers’ Gold, Hallertau, Aromatic & Styrian hops.

belzebuth

According to the brewer:

“BELZEBUTH from Brasserie Grain D’Orge is a very unique golden ale in the world at 13% alc./vol. It is top-fermented all malt filtered ale. Its pungent taste is a result of a particular variety of yeast and mixture of three different malts. No extra alcohol is added to the natural process nor water is removed to increase its strength. This golden ale has a complex aroma, which almost defies description with fullness of flavors overcoming the warming sensation of alcohol. Perfect as an aperitif or with a sinful desserts.”

With sinful desserts? As both a beer and sugar fanatic, The Wench will be a judge of that! Ha!

And without further ado … on to the tasting!

seasons-52-gang-010

The Wench’s Tasting Notes: BELZEBUTH Blond Ale

Brewery: Brasserie Grain D’orge

Region: Flanders region of Northern France

Style: Belgian Strong “Blond” Ale

Color: Hazy burnt orange copper with an off-white head

Carbonation: Pours a thick, foamy white head. The head is lasting and the ale leaves a really decent amount of lacing on the glass. (Point for The Wench for a well-cleaned glass!)

I let the ale warm down quite a bit before attempting to review the aroma and flavor.

Aroma: The aroma is heavy with sweet malt, caramelized sugar and doughy yeast. As expected, the alcohol is extremely present and almost completely overwhelms the aroma. Every once in awhile I get hints of orange peel.

Mouthfeel: Super thick, heavy and syrupy. Warming sensation from the noticeably high ABV.

Flavor: Heavy malt – lots of brown sugar & caramel. The alcohol leaves a burning tingle on the tongue and warms the throat all the way down. As the beer warms, the warming sensation from the alcohol reduces some. Very little bitterness … and almost no acidity.

Finish: Overall, the finish is very mild. The burn from the alcohol does not last very long.

Pairings: Cheese, nuts & dried fruits. It could easily replace a fortified dessert wine, port or sherry at the end of a meal.

Interesting Fact: Belzebuth is also the name of the long-haired, white-bellied spider monkey native to Brazil.

Comments: The beer reminds me of a port – very sweet and warming. Its two strongest characteristics are 1. a high level of sweetness and 2. a noticeably high level of alcohol. I am not a fan of ports because I am not a fan of the burn that accompanies fortified wines. This ale is extremely sweet and almost too syrupy for my personal taste.

Whereas this beer does not appeal to me for everyday … or even once a year … consumption, I would seriously consider using this beer for cooking. It has potential for braises, marinades, glazes, stews and sauces.

beer-braise

As with all my tasting notes, I just want to remind everyone that my palate is not the end all be all. I always encourage people to give me their feedback on the beers that I review!

Cheers!

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Although I am completely obsessed with college athletics, I rarely ever get excited about professional sports. My bias most likely stems from personal experience competing in two different NCAA Division I sports. To me, amateur athletics retain a certain pureness that professional sports lack (feel free to fight me on this all you want).

Regardless of my biases towards certain sports (college football) and programs (The Ohio State University), I pretty much love all sports across the board.

ohio-state-football

There are few things greater in life than occasions that combine sports with beer. One such occasion is the Super Bowl. Whereas I am not a big fan of the NFL, I find the Super Bowl to be a worthy excuse to drink (ridiculously awesome) beer and eat (super greasy) snack food with friends (or random strangers).

In addition to the actual football game, the Super Bowl has also become infamous for its commercials. Companies shell out ridiculous amounts of cash for mere seconds of ad space during the big game.

old-bud

One of the most notorious of these companies is Budweiser. Each year viewers anticipate the roll-out of the Bud Super Bowl commercials – with high expectations that the ads will be wittier and more entertaining than those of the previous year. And because of this, Budweiser has become synonymous with The Super Bowl … kind of like cookies are with milk. (Here comes a metaphor, kids …)

chocolatechipcookies2

As with cookies, the taste of beer can vary immensely based on ingredients used. One could eat cheap, stale, artificially and mass produced cookies from a cardboard box or fresh cookies made from scratch with the highest quality ingredients.

Same goes with beers. One can drink mass-produced corporate beers or small-batch, hand-crafted craft beers. Sure all beer is made with the same 4 ingredients – malt, hops, water & yeast. BUT the difference between good beers and bad beers is the type, quality & amount of each of those ingredients.

In regards to malt, barley is the most common grain used in brewing. Barley malt typically produces the most flavorful and complex beers. In my opinion, most of the world’s greatest beers (especially ales) are made with 100% malted barley. (KEY WORD being most. There are some truly excellent beers that are not made with 100% barley malt.)

hops-and-malt

And then there are some companies who utilize cheaper, less flavorful and less complex grains in their malt. And the beers that result almost always lack in flavor and depth. What do I mean by cheap grain? Rice, corn & wheat are all cheaper grains used to supplement barley in many mass produced beers. Rice in particular is used to make extremely light and virtually flavorless beer.

It all comes down to choice. You can celebrate the festivities of the Super Bowl in style by drinking some high quality, full-flavored craft beers … or you can drink rice water.

rice

And if perchance, you do decide to go the craft beer route … may I suggest that you try a craft lager?

WHAT?!!! GASP! CHOKE! SPIT!

Did you just read that right? Did The Wench … a self-proclaimed lover of ales … just use the “L” word? Yes, folks. But, allow me to elaborate.

lager

Super Bowl Sunday typically consists of beer consumption from the time one rises till the time one goes to sleep (or passes out). As much as I love high gravity ales, they are not necessarily conducive to an all day drinking fest. Lagers are usually cheaper, lighter bodied and lower in alcohol percentage than their ale counterparts. This makes them perfect for extensive, all-day consumption.

When it comes to the differences between ales and lagers, Lagunitas puts it best: Where ales are meaty, lagers are sinewy. Where ales are stree, lagers are ‘haute couture’. Where an ale might hit you over the head and take your wallet, lagers donate to charity and adopt stray cats. While an ale might steal your car or try to date your daughter and keep her out all night for who-knows-what purpose, a well bred lager would offer to clean your house while you’re on vacation and leave fresh scones and coffee for you when you return.”

lagunitas2

Although I am neither a lager lover nor lager drinker, I do have a few craft lagers that I find relatively enjoyable. And since football is an U.S. born sport, I have decided to compile a list of American craft lagers that I feel are ideal for Super Bowl consumption. These include:

Lagunitas Pilsner

Brooklyn Lager

Bell’s Lager Of The Lakes

Victory Prima Pilsner

Samuel Smith’s Organic Lager

Rogue Kells Irish Style Lager

Fort Collins Z Lager

Flying Dog Old Scratch Lager

Clipper City Small Craft Warning Über Pils

Great Lakes Elliot Ness Lager

Rogue Morimoto Imperial Pilsner

And … if all else fails and the only store selling beer near you is a gas station … then Yuengling may suffice.

Regardless of your sport, team and beer preferences … CHEERS!

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