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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SAM ADAMS INTERVIEW PART ONE

SAM ADAMS INTERVIEW PART TWO

Feedback is greatly encouraged!

Cheers!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 …

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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.

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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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