Thursday, April 30, 2009

Draught Beer Quality Manual Released

The Brewers Association has released their comprehensive Draught Beer Quality Manual, yours for the downloading here. If you have a question about draft dispense, you will find your answer there. It is also indexed and searchable as html.

Nice Story About Annette

The News Herald has a story about Annette here. Aren't I the good husband, to let her borrow my prized fez?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

N'awlins Needs Cicerones!

We just returned from a trip to the Big Easy, and may have to subsist on lettuce and water for a week just to regain nutritional equilibrium. For those who have never been to New Orleans, one word: Go.

New Orleanians know how to live well. Food is not simply fuel, a commodity; it's a sacrament, a pastime, a way of life. Much time and thought seems to go into doing leisure right.

For all the focus on food and good living, the beer revolution is not much in evidence in many restaurants, certainly not as much as it should be. Abita Amber, a Vienna-style lager, is readily available around town; their other, more interesting beers somewhat less so. There is one venerable multitap in town, Cooter Brown's, a dba in Faubourg Marigny, and a pair of identical new corporate-ish multitaps on Bourbon. There's Crescent City Brewhouse, but beyond a really solid Pils, it's just another touristy place on Decatur.

The most singular example of what I'm talking about was at the venerable Commander's Palace. Arguably the finest restaurant in the world capital of eatin', and virtually no beer in the place. Not even Guinness or Sam Adams, just a couple 'lite' beers, Abita Amber, and Heineken. waiting for our table at the bar, we ordered a couple Abitas. We opted for a six course fixed-menu dinner titled "The Chef's Playground," complete with wine pairings for each course. The meal was nothing short of spectacular. A blow by blow account follows below.

First, to avoid repetition- every one of the wines was really nice. We like wine, though we are not experts. We were able to sample each wine before the food course arrived. Each wine agreed with each course, that is, there were no clashes, and nothing was overwhelmed. However, at no point did the pairing of wine with food exceed the sum of the two parts. We are used to fireworks with beer and food; the wine provided candlelight enough to see. So I've inserted the 'fantasy beers' we'd have liked to had on hand. I would also like to note that we each brought a half-pint of Abita to the table, and it was pretty damn good with most of the courses. OK, here it is, in all its decadent glory:

Blue Crab and Caviar Timbale

Jumbo lump crabmeat & Atchafalaya Basin bowfin roe with citrus, peppery arugula, mango, crushed lime and golden pineapple vinaigrette.

Lots of sweet crab, great with all the fruit.

Wine: Gruet Brut Rose

Fantasy beers: Celis White, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Goose 312, for the citrus character, Dupont Saison for the peppery phenol. Lots of stuff to hook up with, here.

Spicy Lobster and Asparagus

Crab-boiled Maine lobster and grilled spring asparagus veloute with preserved lemon and Creole cream cheese.

Amazing. The preserved lemon really set off the other ingredients.

Wine: 2006 Monchhof Reisling Spatlese Urziger Wurgarten

Fantasy beers: Duvel, Cooper's Sparkling Ale; Hefeweizen would be set off nicely by the lemon, too.

Duck Egg Carbonara

Spring duck egg poached with lemon and sea salt over hand made pasta with caramelized shallots, brandy, bacon and oregon black truffles.

Oof. Words fail me. Incredibly rich. You had me at the egg yolk.

Wine: 2007 Pieropan Soave Classico

Fantasy beers: Deux Brasseurs Golden Ale w/brett, Goose Island Matilda

INTERMISSION: "Le Coup De Milieu" a Liquefied Ponchatoula Strawberry Shortcake

Pretty much what it sounds like, with booze.

Tomato Dusted Soft Shell Crab

Local legumes, asparagus and petite leaves tossed with chardonnay, spicy tasso & tabasco butter.

Wow. Crispy soft shell crab coated with local tomatoes that had been dehydrated, concentrated, and powderized. Think sun-dried tomatoes. Or barbecue potato chips.

Wine: 2006 Trefethen Chardonnay

Fantasy beers: Rauchbier or schwarzbier would be great with the intense tomato coated crab and spicy ham. Great Lakes Conway's Irish Red would probably go well, too.

A Tasting of Spring Lamb

Wood-fired leg of lamb and braised lamb tongue with butter roasted Brussels sproutss, chervil, shaved sweet onions, aged balsamic vinegar, rosti potatoes, and lamb jus roti.

Wonderful. Lambs have tender, tasty tongues. And there is no meal that can't be improved by the addition of roasted Brussels sprouts.

Wine: 2005 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

Fantasy beers: Dubbel, Amber biere de garde, dunkels bockbier

The Chocolate Molten

Imported dark chocolate, chicory coffee anglaise, chocolate covered esperesso beans, chocolate ganache and Jason's "1403" chocolate mint.

Wine: 1994 Smith Woodhouse Oporto (should've saved this for a cheese course!)

Fantasy beer: Fish in a barrel! Any rich, dark, roasty beer would do well, as long as it's not too bitter. North Coast Old Rasputin, Founders, Arcadia, all are Imperial stouts that would go well. As a long shot, I'd try Perkulator Coffee Doppelbock from Dark Horse.

All throughout this meal, we were waited on hand and foot by Commander's highly professional, welcoming staff. Everybody should have this experience at least once in their life.


We also dined at Jacques-Imo, which is a casual setting with fancy food in the Uptown neighborhood. We'd eaten there before, and knew it would be great. And a small, but decent selection of beer didn't hurt- Chimay Red goes amazingly well with braised short ribs!

...Full post

Friday, April 24, 2009

Stone Guys at Ashleys AA

Join the head brewers of Stone, Mitch & Steve, for the release of
Levitation Ale in Michigan at 5pm on Saturday April 25 in Ann Arbor.
Mitch & Steve are stopping by on their way back from the Craft Brewers
Conference in Boston. Before they head home they are going to team up again with Ron Jeffries of Jolly Pumpkin in Dexter to brew something special.


Also scheduled to appear:

* Chipotle Smoked Porter
* 12th Anniversary Oatmeal Stout
* Arrogant Bastard
* Pale Ale
* Ruination
* Russian Imperial
* Smoked Porter
* 08-08-08 Maybe???


Well, that was fun. It turned out to be a smallish gathering of brewers and assorted beer nerds. It was great to meet Steve Wagner, the founding brewer from Stone, and the man responsible for Pale Ale, Smoked Porter, and Arrogant Bastard, among others; and great to see Mitch Steele again. Ron Jeffries and the guys from Nogny O were also there, fresh from the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, and Laurie Jeffries and Molly Brown from Jolly Pumpkin were there, as well. We've been lucky enough to have a couple of preview samples of Levitation in the past month or so, and were happy to have more, but I think we were both most excited by the prospect of the Chipotle Smoked Porter. We were certainly not disappointed; it was smooth and balanced, with a nice pepper glow. I'd love to have some with some barbecue... Steve Wagner explained that they periodically rack a few barrels of their regular (and excellent) Smoked Porter into a tank with some chipotles and age it a while. It's a rare treat, so if you want to try it, hie thee to Ashley's soon. We also had some of the Twelfth Anniversary oatmeal chocolate imperial stout that had been aged in bourbon casks. It was nice, not too boozy, but I still might prefer the non-wood version. I had a small taste of the Vertical 8-8-8, basically a tripel/strong golden, which still has plenty of hop character. Oh, yeah, the Levitation: ruby-brown, big resiny hop aroma and flavor, backed up with nutty malt with a hint of chocolate. Body is medium-light, and alcohol content is a temperate 4.4%/vol. A perfect beer if you want to have Extreme!Dude! flavor without getting too wasted....

...Full post

Lots of new beer at Merchants!

Many great new things have arrived....

I believe I might have the only case in Michigan! It's a rare bottling
of Cantillon lambic with whole fresh grapes from the Bordeux region
added into the oak cask. I've been lucky enough to have this beer a few
times before (on draft at The Hopleaf in Chicago!!), and it's
spectacular! I'm going to make a very rich mole sauce soon, maybe throw
it over a pork tenderloin, and think this might be a good match.

No 1 in a new series of barrel-aged beers from Avery Brewing. It's a
barrel-aged wild ale aged for 8 months in zinfandel barrels. I haven't
tried it yet, but hope to soon, maybe this weekend. I'll have to cook
something interesting to match the (I expect) intense cross-section of
flavours that this beer promises.

A Trappist bock. "A beautiful example of the Dutch expression of that
style. Very deep red in colour. Richly roasted and deeply flavored malts
round out the palate, highlighted and contrasted by the surprising depth
of hop flavor and bitterness, all melding into a long and luxurious
finish." 7%ABV

Ron's Spring seasonal release. Can't wait to open the one I have at home!

A new beer from Ommegang. Belgian-style amber with Brettanomyces. Mmmmm.

A new seasonal Saison brewed with coriander, lemon balm, chamomile and
lemon basil. Very "herby" and quite unique.

A limited edition anniversary beer from Guinness! 5%ABV, carbonated with
just CO2, smooth, lightish bodied, slightly sweet, low bitterness in the
finish. A lovely warm weather beer.

One of the best summer seasonals out there. (I'll be drinking plenty, at
least until our own helles and pilsner are ready.)

If you haven't tried this unique beer from Stone, you're in for a great
treat. I'll say no more.....

Always great.


There's good news, and there's bad news.
The bad? It's been delayed. Straight from David's (the Bell's rep)
mouth... "Expect it to arrive during a month starting with "J". June?
July?.... January? Hopefully we'll see it mid-June, or thereabouts.
The good? The beer is taking its time to arrive at the desired ABV, and
they won't release it until it's ready.

...Full post

Beer School!

Tuesday May 5th, 7PM
Ashley's Westland
7525 Wayne Rd, Westland at Westland Mall 734 525 1667
THE ESSENTIAL INTRODUCTION TO BEER- A class and tasting with REX HALFPENNY. Space is limited, reservations required, $20 per person includes all samples and snacks. Tickets available on-line

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April 27th is Beer Club Dinner at Slows

The next beer dinner at Slows will feature Great Lakes beers paired with specially designed courses. It promises to be phenomenal, as always. Price is $30, which, trust me, is a bargain. Details from Tara below the fold:
"Hello fellow beer lovers it's almost our favorite Monday of the month again!!! April 27 @7:30pm, this time due to the Yankees being in town for the Tigers to beat. We will be starting the night off with a outstanding
NEVER been poured before(for the public-just us!!) saison-The GrassRoots!!!
Chef Brian will be pairing that with a wonderful spring vegetable
raviolli. We will also be sampling the blackout stout with lamb &polenta,
Elliot ness-with pork,artichokes,arugula,shrooms and etc. of yumminess!!!
And how about chocolate and Edmund Fitzgerald porter???!!! And a duo of
cheeses and Commodore Perry vs Burning river, need I say more??-- See you
Monday!!! Any ?'s just hollar back& to Rsvp either email or call
313-962-9828-Thanks again-T"

...Full post

Monday, April 13, 2009


Manchego & Humboldt Fog cheeses,Spanish hard chorizo (not the Mexican crumbly type), marcona almonds, olives, marinated grilled octopus (if I can't find any fresh octopus to cook or just want to throw together a really quick snack, then a can of Roland smoked sliced octopus does the trick), and some good chewy dense bread, all washed down with a bottle (or two) of Sarasola Sargadoa Basque cider. Traditionally the cider is poured by holding the bottle up high above the head and pouring into a small glass that is held just below waist level. DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME!

...Full post

We All Scream

A couple of posts have mentioned homemade ice cream. This is something that goes in the "you gotta try this" category; it's really worth it. What you need is a Donvier, which makes the whole process easy and convenient. I believe that there are other, similar gizmos out there now, but this is the original. The key component is a metal cylinder that has its hollow walls filled with a freezer gel. You just store it in your freezer until you want to make ice cream. The whole process is simple- you make up a custard (brewers are allowed to think of this as 'ice cream wort',) pour it into the assembled Donvier, and stir every couple minutes for around 20 minutes. Easy!

The custard is usually cooked and cooled before freezing, although a 'quick and dirty' ice cream can be made by just mixing ingredients and going right into the Donvier. Sherbet, sorbet, gelato, etc, all can be made with this gizmo, as well. We once made a delicious sorbet based on Duchesse de Bourgogne beer. Ice cream made this way is the real deal. Readers my age and older may remember when Breyers was an independent company, and made real ice cream, you know, the stuff that freezes HARD, and melts into liquid, not a gooey semisolid. That's what we're talking about, here.

What it is not, is economical. By the time you add up the cost of the cream, eggs, sugar, milk, and flavorings, it can be an expensive quart of ice cream. You can buy some damn good chocolate or pistachio or the like pretty reasonably. However, if you want chocolate malt, red bean, green tea, baci, Mexican chocolate, chestnut, or some such, you may have to make it for yourself. Go ahead, live a little....

...Full post

100th Cask at Fort Street Brewery

8 PM, Thursday, April 16, will mark the tapping of Doug's 100th cask of real ale, and I'll be in line for my pint when it's tapped. Fort Street Brewery is on Fort St. (duh) in Lincoln Park, near Southfield Rd.

**Update, from Doug**

Now that Easter's out of the way, it's time to focus on the really important holiday- National High Five Day! That's right, this Thursday, April 16th is the big day. And what better occasion to give out high fives than the release of our 100th cask-conditioned ale?! There's a lot of accomplishments that I'm proud of at Fort Street, and making it to 100 casks is certainly one of the biggest. To top it off, we have a very special celebrity guest to tap the cask. We're very pleased to announce that Rex Halfpenny will be the tapper of this very special cask. You may know Rex as the publisher of the Michigan Beer Guide, the man who started the Michigan Brewers Guild, or perhaps even as the person responsible for getting homebrewing legalized in Michigan. What's in the cask? Doesn't matter, it's good, and it's #100! After Rex taps the cask, we'll slap high fives and switch positions to our second beer, "High Five Rye". This is an IPA made with rye and five hop varieties. Two fists filled with two great beers! As usual, we'll have some fabulous prizes to give to a few lucky folks in attendance at the tapping.

...Full post

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Dunkel. Word.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dark Lord Revisited

We'd had Three Floyds' Dark Lord Imperial Stout last fall, a bottle of which Annette had acquired at the annual feeding frenzy at the brewery...

For those unaware, Dark Lord is released (and sold out) on one day at the brewery each year in March. People come from far and wide, and line up outside hours before opening, kind of like all those Star Wars geeks. So, we brought out the beer at the "stash from the cellar" phase of last year's beer brunch, and it was good. OK. Decent. If it seems I'm damning it with faint praise, well, it didn't seem to live up to the hype.

Some time later, our friend Aaron gave Annette another bottle of Dark Lord, which sat in our Circus Room until Aaron, his girlfriend Beth, and our friend Jason came over one recent Sunday for cassoulet. Dessert was homemade coconut ice cream, which is something easy and fun to pair up with beers. The coconut flavors one may find in a dark beer aged in a bourbon cask can hook up with the coconut in the ice cream, and roasty and chocolaty and whiskey flavors all complement, and are complemented by, the sweet creaminess. We brought out some Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout, which worked just like downtown. We also had on hand some 2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, but at this stage of the day, we didn't think we quite had the stamina left to meet that challenge and still be able to manage the Dark Lord. This time, Dark Lord really shone. Lots of dark, French-roasty flavor, lots of hop bitterness, chocolate, moderate to high residual sweetness, and alcohol all seemed to balance each other very nicely. And of course it rocked with the ice cream.

I still have a scoop of that ice cream left, and some Bourbon County....

...Full post

Brew Day, Batch #mumblemumble: Pils

It's brew day, and through a serious lapse in competent production planning, I currently have no homebrewed pilsener to drink. I drank the last drop on Wednesday, and now I will have to wait until, oh, late May for more. I do have a few bottles of Einbecker to get me through this thirsty work, though. Besides that I will just have to rely on dunkel, rauchbier, ESB, brown ale, 80 shilling, helles, maibock, schwarzbier, and IPA until today's beer is ready. Or drink commercial beer....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nuptials, April 3, 2004

Where would two people who love beer as much as we do be wed? Our first choice would have been in our yard with everyone toasting us with a glass of Mike’s homebrew, but due to our house’s inability to comfortably fit more than about 10 people, we were wed in one of our favourite bars, the singular Delilah’s on Lincoln Ave, Chicago. Not only were we wed in the bar, the incomparable owner of Delilah’s, Mike Miller, was the officiant. The Rev wore zebra-striped shoes, and the ceremony brought tears to everyone’s eyes, and included these wonderful and apt sentiments...

”I kiss her, Her lips open, And I am drunk without a beer”
“Do you agree to always share your favourite beverages?” (We do!)
“I would rather have a crust of bread and a tent With You than be queen of all the world.”
“I would rather have a Bud Light and a tent With You than be king of all the world.”

And so we were wed, and our family and closest friends toasted us with Bosteels Deus. Mike and I toasted each other with Lindeman’s Cuvee Rene Gueuze, 1994 vintage. Mmmmm.

After a few beers at Delilah’s while everyone admired the artwork, (Delilah’s is host to local art exhibits, and this is what was on show the day of our wedding...Loverly!!) Art#1, Art#2, Art#3, we headed over to Mike & Louise’s Hopleaf in Andersonville for our wedding repast. We feasted on mussels and frites for appetizers, and our entrée selections were gourmet sandwiches- Smoked duck breast with greens, tomato-ginger jam & herb aioli on gilled sourdough, BLT with Nueskie bacon on grilled bread, and Nueskie ham with gruyere and apple-tarragon coleslaw on pumpernickel. Aragula salad and more frites complemented the sandwiches. Dessert was a rich bread pudding. The accompanying beverages were Etienne Dupont Normandie Cidre, De Ranke XX Bitter, Dogfish Head Au Courant (first version) and Bell’s Double Cream Stout. The evening ended at Tuman’s Tavern with pints of Bell’s porter amongst other beers.

Late next morning we reconvened at Goose Island, Clybourn, for brunch and a beer before we all headed back home to Michigan, but not before one last stop at Old Hat in Lawton, MI, where we had a couple of pints and listened to the Cats In The Hat bring the house down. A memorable weekend!

We honeymooned in New Orleans, and certainly had our fair share of great food and beers at Crescent City Brewery, Coops, Cooter Brown’s and DBA, and on our last night I ate more than I’ve ever eaten before at Jacques-Imo Café, a fine institution that luckily survived the hurricane and is still going strong. It was one of the most decadent meals we’ve ever eaten, still to this day, and included a rich crawfish cheesecake as an appetizer before a host of other mudbug dishes. We groaned our way back to the hotel, and our plans to paint the town red on our last night were thwarted by our inability to keep our pants zipped without wincing in pain.

This gustatory (and romantic) tale ends a couple of months later when summer was in full force. We had a post-wedding party in our yard and invited a host of people that didn’t attend our small and intimate wedding. Our grill was put to good use, and many fine beers were drunk including our special wedding beer, a Belgian-style strong ale that our friend Steve brewed for us. We still have some bottles and it’s still delectable. This party spawned the famous “ Allen Park burning Porta-potti incident”, and is the reason we are now black-listed from every portable toilet company in the vicinity. Honestly, we still have no real explanation as to how the Porta-potti caught fire 48 hours after the party ended. Photo of carnage

...Full post

Happy Anniversary!

Our fifth wedding anniversary last week called for a special evening. For us that means staying in, cooking, and having some special beers in the comfort of our house. On the occasion of Mike’s 40th birthday a few years back I had surprised him with a trip to Philadelphia and New York (fantastic beer and food trip, but I do have to add that one of the highlights was the Rodin museum in Philadelphia), and to this day he still sighs with joy at the memory of a meal he had while on this trip – a risotto incorporating lamb shanks. So I attempted to replicate this memorial meal for him, and it was a treat. The lamb shanks had been slowly braised the night before in a rich brown stock incorporating Mike’s Munich dunkel until the meat fell from the bones, and I used the stock from these very shanks to cook the risotto. Sides were kept very simple- a green salad, and some fresh lightly steamed asparagus. I enjoyed a Hofbrau maibock while cooking, and beers with the risotto were Mike’s ESB, Mike’s dunkel, Mike’s winter warmer, and our special anniversary beer, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2004. We had been given a case of Bigfoot as a wedding gift (we wed in 2004) from our homebrew club, and every year on our anniversary we open one and share it. (The last bottle will be shared in 2029, I’ll be 69 and Mike will be 63!) For, me, the Bigfoot was just reaching perfection (I prefer Bigfoot with a little bit of age). The colour was astounding and I couldn’t stop marveling at its gorgeous dark copper hue, and it was luscious and malty with plenty of hop character and bitterness still showing. I thought the hop character overpowered the risotto somewhat, but every drop was, of course, consumed. The best beer with the risotto was, not surprisingly, the dunkel.

...Full post

Saturday, April 4, 2009

How I Got Here

Dignified? Hmmm, nice compliment, but I bet Mike must have forgotten about this. Anyway, about me...

I came to beer very (very!) late, being the offspring of old-world European Jewish parents who drank Cherry Advokaat, and more importantly, growing up in Australia, the land of “how many tinnies can a bloke skul”, enough to deter any self-respecting female from exploring beer. It was during the 60’s, and my teenage years in the early 70’s were fraught with the chants of “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair” as well as “Hare Krishna, Hare Rama” which meant that I was never much of a drinker, much preferring the other type of high. I was, and still am to some degree, what the Aussies call a “two pot screamer”.

So, there I was, in my mid 30’s, living in Chicago, still not much of a drinker (though long given up on that other high I mentioned earlier), single and unemployed, having vowed to never don scrubs, nor set foot in another hospital again (I went to college for nursing). Hmm, how to earn a living? “Methinks I’ll be a bartender” says I, who occasionally drank margaritas and rum & coke and who had ne’er really tasted a beer outside of Castlemaine XXXX or Bud Light. “It looks like fun”. So I got me a fine bartending job in a beer and shot bar in a Hispanic neighbourhood in Chicago, and I worked there for a couple of months until the owner suggested I wear a bikini during my shift. I did learn how to make a mean Tequila Sunrise and pour draft MGD, invaluable experience!

A friend was dating a bar owner who was looking for a bartender, and I was hired based upon my astounding ability to pour cheap draft beer and shots, and probably because I had a cute accent, a potential crowd-pleaser. Luckily for me, this bar (the now defunct Puffer’s in Bridgeport, Chicago), was one of the first bars around to pour craft beer, interesting imports and Belgian beer (it was 1995), and there lies my “key to the door”. I quickly discovered that selling good (and costly) beers generated bigger tips, plus I discovered I actually liked the different flavours! I remember my first hefeweizen on a hot afternoon after I’d just finished my shift; I had been pouring them all afternoon for customers. It was both a surprise and a treat. Not so pleasant was my first taste of pale ale, though. It was Whitbread, the real deal from England, on tap, and I thought it was horrible. But not for long! Chimay Red was the breakthrough, though; I loved it, and decided that this was the type of beer I was going to drink, and explore, from now on. I loved that job, and eventually left when I was offered a bartending job at Chicago’s famed Map Room, thanks to an introduction from my dear friend John Freyer. And the rest is history... I became the bar manager, beer buyer, draft system maintainer, cellarman (The Map Room was, I believe, the first bar in Chicago to have real ale), and in general the “I can’t get enough of all of this” beer sheila. I tried Stille Nacht, Schlenkerla rauchbier, Hanssen’s gueuze, Berliner weisse, schwarzbier, IPA, marzen, pilsner and Guinness and loved them all. I even traded my Christmas bonus one year for the chance to go to Siebel Institute to do a week-long draft skills workshop. I befriended many a homebrewer, although I had never actually brewed, started attending Chicago Beer Society functions and other beery events around the city, and spent much time devoted to the pursuit, and study of great beers, both local and imported.

In 2001 I was offered a sales position with B.United International, importers of some of the finest beers, cask conditioned ale, ciders, meads and sakes available anywhere. After a short stint bartending at Goose Island Clybourn (all the best people have worked there), and selling Three Floyds beers (nobody would ever believe these days how many doors were “slammed in my face” back then) I started working for the venerable Matthias Neidhart. My knowledge (and sales skills) soared, and I spent a little over 4 happy years working for Matthias, selling the portfolio in a bunch of Midwestern states and simultaneously exploring many of the USA’s best beer bars.
In 2003, at the National Homebrewers Conference in Chicago, I gave a “beer and cheese pairing” seminar to about 150 people. (My seminar immediately followed one given by Garrett Oliver. The same 150 people had just been hypnotized both by Garrett’s majestic presence, and his knowledge and presentation skills. It was a hard act to follow. Oh- but I had food!). More importantly though, it was at this conference that I met my husband Mike, and I moved to Michigan shortly after and we were wed. I stayed on with B. United for one more year, and left to take on my current position as Beer Department Manager at Merchant’s Fine Wine, Dearborn MI. It’s a fine store; and the beer department is huge. It’s 10 minutes from my house (invaluable!!), I have weekends off, and I spend my work days buying beer, selling beer, stocking beer, stacking beer, pricing beer, rearranging beer, organizing beer, talking about beer, researching beer, sending e-mails about beer, and keeping people happy.

The Cicerone Certification came about because it’s just what I do every day. It’s the accumulation of 14 years experience combined with my delight in actually drinking beer, and my love of cooking which is something I’ve always been passionate about, well before I became passionate about beer. (I once spent three days making and decorating one chocolate/hazelnut cake. Now I spend three days making a cassoulet. Nothing has changed. Except now I drink beer while I cook.) The real joy comes in sharing all of this with my husband, our friends and family, and all the beer and food lovers out there. L’Chaim!

...Full post

Waltzing Matilda

First off: Chef Brian Perrone of Slows BBQ in Corktown is an evil genius. Despite the years he has shaved off of my expected lifespan, I remain fond of him. Last Monday, we had the good fortune to attend a dinner where Chef Perrone created a four course meal specifically to match up with a series of Goose Island beers. The whole thing was smashing, but I just want to single out one amazing course. The beer was Matilda, Goose's homage to Orval. Most who try Matilda think it generally exhibits more Brettanomyces character than Orval, but it's a similar beer, and lovely in its own right. So, malty, but with an overall dryness from hops, a little wild. This was paired up with baby back ribs confit, red sauerkraut, and potato pierogi. Baby back ribs confit. Baby. Back. Ribs. Confit. Do not let the diet nannies who are protecting us from tropical fats and the like find out about this. The ribs were salt-cured, and poached in chicken fat. Tender, rich, and an absolutely wonderful foil for the beer. The hop and Brett character stood out brightly against the buttery meat. (Cue Homer Simpson gurgling-drooling sound....)

...Full post

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What I'm Talkin' 'Bout

Once a year, in early fall, we invite around a dozen hardy, fearless souls to join us for a Sunday Brunch. This usually runs from around noon to 7PM, as we end up running off on tangents, fetching interstitial beers, investigating other ideas for beer matches, and generally having a whale of a time. (And ending up feeling like a beached whale by the time it's all over...) Here's the menu from last fall:

Annette & Mike’s Beer Brunch 2008…..

De Ranke XX Bitter
Buckwheat honey-basted slow-roasted tomato and ricotta bruschetta

Schneider Hefeweizen
- with-
Jarlsberg & horseradish omelet

Mike’s Dunkel
Yeast-raised waffles with marscapone cheese & hibiscus syrup

Dieu du Ciel! Rosee de Hibiscus
Sticky grilled chicken wings with plum and hot pepper jelly sauce

Mike’s Ginger Wheat beer
Vietnamese spring rolls and rhubarb and ginger dipping sauce

Goose Island’s Matilda
Rack of lamb with onion and shallot confit on a bed of mashed potato

Stone Brewing 12th Anniversary Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
Home-made chocolate-malt &red bean ice-creams

The Stash from the Cellar
Assorted Cheeses

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What's All This, Then, Long Version

We love to eat and drink well, and go to (not unreasonable) lengths to see that we do. The point of this blog is to help others do the same. We are a married, middle-aged couple with multiple ties to the world of beer. We are also both certified Cicerones, which is the beer analog to a Sommelier. More info on Ciceronery is at

I've been an amateur brewer since 1989. Over the past 20 years and countless beers, I've made many, many beery friends in the US and beyond, and even managed to acquire a beer-expert-wife in 2004. I have followed the arc of development from 'ignorant of all I didn't know' through 'overwhelmed by all there is to know,' followed closely by 'measury-controlly-gadgety-worrier,' settling into the long, slow, gradual curve of 'relaxed, worrying only where necessary.' I have spread the homebrew bug to many a new brewer, and helped ease many more past the worrying stage into the relaxation zone. I am committed to helping reliable, quality information on beer and brewing into the hands of those who need it, while dispelling the many myths, fallacies, and wives tales that persist. Like that thing about bock beer being from 'the bottom of the vats when they clean them once a year.' Jeez.

To this end, I recently attained, along with my wife Annette, the aforementioned Cicerone certification. We have a strong interest in beer in cuisine, and occasionally conduct public food and beer pairings. We also have killer parties. I have been an active member of the Downriver Brewers Guild since 1995. In May 2009, I will have a party to mark my 300th batch of homebrew.

Annette is an actual
professional beer nerd, who, having previously managed the Map Room in Chicago, and sold beer for importer B. United International, is now the beer department manager at the best damn beer store in the Detroit area, Merchants Fine Wines in Dearborn.

There are 4 refrigeration units in our basement dedicated to beer: two chest freezers with temperature controls, one for fermentation and one for lagering, and two upright fridges, one for bottled beers and the other fitted with four taps and a drip tray.

Maybe we're just easily amused, but few things make us happier than when good beer and good food come together. And most of the other things are none of your damn business....

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