Tag Archives: Beer

The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food by Garrett Oliver

The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real FoodThe Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food by Garrett Oliver

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was to add to the knowledge base, despite not being a fan of Oliver’s Brooklyn Brewery and I dislike most of the styles he crows about. Even though this was published in 2003, it still has value with respect to suggestions. He does a good job with descriptions, and food pairings (something that always makes me laugh, whether wine or beer related), and isn’t shy at all about recommending his own brewery’s beers as “notable producers” of the various styles he covers…most of which I’ve tried (the recommendations, that is…not the current menu) and not been impressed by, by the way, but that’s because my tastes are my tastes.

I am so not a lager or Belgian drinker, and he gushes the crap out of them. Most of the book is a lovefest with Euro beers, almost all of which I really cannot stand (Flemish oud bruins are an exception), but for those who do like them, the book will give you some good, albeit dated, tips. I wasn’t keen on his treatment of American beers, though he wasn’t unkind – just not as ebullient as he was for the lagers and …cringe…English beers. Oh My Flying Spaghetti Monster! We are so far apart on our evaluation of Irish stouts! Recognizing that so much has changed on the American craft canvas since 2003, I’m amused at most of his “notable” American breweries are second tier in my assessments – Anchor, Ommegang (third tier), Victory, Goose Island, … Brooklyn… Well, I know I am at odds with many fans, but as I said above…my tastes. I do think I need to explore some lambics. I’ve only had two – two individual beers – to date. I will be touring central Europe in the fall and though I will try Czech and Austrian beers just because, I’m steeling myself in advance.

Snobbery is in the eye of the beer holder. Your mileage may vary. Regardless of whether you agree with Oliver on his likes and recommendations, and though it is old in terms of modern craft, this is still a good addition to the toolbox.

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The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak – finally read

The Goblin ReservationThe Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

File this under Books I Should Have Read Already. I carried around for more than 30 years (probably lots more) a worn paperback I got from a used bookstore, and it sat on a shelf next to Clarke, Anderson, Williamson, Blish, …unread. I started it a number of times, but never got that far and lost my well-traveled copy to a fire in 2013.

A decidedly odd book. Dated elements, but not overly so, given its oddness. I got a kick out of a subplot line involving the Goblins (actually, Little People…the traditional Irish type) and beer:

Scuttling down the path toward them came a tiny goblin, his multicolored, too-large shirt whipping in the wind of his headlong running. “The ale!” he screamed. “The ale!” He skidded to a halt in front of the three toiling up the path. “What of the ale?” panted Mr. O’Toole. “Do you mean to confess to me that you have been the sampling of it?” “It has gone sour,” wailed the little goblin. “The whole bewitched mess of it is sour.” “But ale can’t go sour,” protested Maxwell, grasping some sense of the tragedy that had taken place. Mr. O’Toole bounced upon the path in devastating anger. His face turned from brown to red to purple. His breath came gushing out in wheezing gasps. “It can, bedamned,” he shouted, “with a spell of wizardry!”

In 1969, Simak probably had no experience with Flanders ales, but then, if he’d ever had Guinness, well, that stuff is nasty sour and not in a good, intentional way.

I like Simak’s language he used for his Goblins:

“But these,” he said, “are dolorous topics on which to waste so glorious an autumn afternoon. So let us fasten our thoughts, rather, with great steadfastness, upon the foaming ale that awaits us on the hilltop.”

And a dig on fools who would chug:

He [O’Toole] put the mug to his mouth again and emptied it in several lusty gulps. He slammed it down on the table and looked at Maxwell’s mug, still full. “Drink up,” he urged. “Drink up, then I fill them yet again for a further wetting of the whistle.” “You go ahead,” Maxwell told him. “It’s a shame to drink ale the way you do. It should be tasted and appreciated.” Mr. O’Toole shrugged. “A pig I am, no doubt. But this be disenchanted ale and not one to linger over.”

Lost, for most readers I’m sure, among the narrative, Simak writes something I’ve been saying for much of my adult life…his main character Peter Maxwell observes:

“I do not like the word `intolerant,’ Mr. Marmaduke, because it implies that there is ground for tolerance and there is no such thing-not for you, nor me, nor any other creature in the universe.”

Wisdom in classic science fiction. It is there, you know.

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A return to beer?

Misleading title…I’ve only stopped posting about beer here since I created my beer page (with the curious, started as a joke but I’ll stick with it name We Like Beers) almost four years ago. I still like beer. Okay…I have an ADD affectation for it – “Oooh! Another one!”

I had a Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo Pale Ale today. It is brewed with Pennsylvania spruce tips, measures 8.5% and is pretty good. I’m not much of a DFH fan, but now and then they surprise me. This one is a pretty orange amber color, good lacing, nice malts, and a sneaky ABV. The spruce comes in at the aftertaste and is quite welcome.

pennsylvania Tuxedo Plae Ale

I also had a Tröegs Independent Brewing JavaHead Stout today. It’s a milk stout brewed with coffee and unlike a lot of other coffee infused beers, and unlike a lot of milk stouts, it works. Milk stouts tend to be pretty thin as a rule, but this one isn’t as thin as others. And coffee in beer is a miss or hit…usually the former…and yet, again, it works in this one.

Tröegs Java Head Stout

Finally… for this post, anyway…Community Beer, Co. in Dallas makes a Legion Russian Imperial Stout that is pretty good on its own. They’ve aged a series in different barrels for the past few years which makes it even better (sort of). The first four were in highly unimaginative (and thoroughly wasteful of potentially good beer) bourbon barrels – hence the “sort of”. I unintentionally discovered that last year’s batch was aged in The Macallan barrels and went on a SAR mission to find some, coming away with two four packs, savoring one and spreading the love with the other. So…I watched for the details this year and they indulged in some sanity and aged the Legion in Jamaican Rum barrels, releasing it on October 29th (2017). I don’t have favorites, rather favored beers and this has become one of mine. I picked up a four pack for me and a four pack for my two oldest sons and their better partners. (Then I nabbed another four…while thinking I need to lay up a few more!) The beer is smooth and the rum is an excellent complement.


Community Rum Legion

We’ll see if I can add to this blog more beer in the future.

Prost! (The German word…not Romanian {wink})

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi – review

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We LoveBread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s not to like? Wine, Chocolate, Coffee, Beer, and Bread? (Plus one more that I’ll get to…)

Sethi breaks each examination into three parts…a mix of her personal history with the food and historical history (wasn’t sure how else to put that); looks at sourcing and the impacts of high yield hybrids and strains on the higher quality beans, grains, yeasts, grapes, etc. – loss of diversity; and a short section on how the experts suggest enjoying each. She does a good job telling the story of the small farmers, vintners, chocolatiers “operating on the slimmest og magins”, trying to make a living.

I liked most of what Sethi wrote, highlighting a few quote-worthy segments… Continue reading