Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two Upcoming Events at Fort Street

Says Doug:
This Thursday, July 2nd we'll be releasing two beers, and premiering two new liquors. First up is "Independence of Barley", it's made with 40% rye and fermented with the same yeast as the upcoming Summer Sunsation (which you got a sneak peak of last week). It's lightly fruity, slightly spicy, a tiny bit tart, and a whole lot refreshing. Secondly, "C.P.A" returns. Our very popular gluten-free rice and sorghum IPA will be tapped at the same time. Of course, these are both small batches, and I would hope that they would go quickly.

Have you heard about this "Beer in The Park" festival at Fort Street Brewery on August 1st? Yeah, it sounds like quite a shindig! There's gonna be like 13 beers on tap, brewing demonstrations, beer cuisine, and more (still no word from Aaron on those monkeys, though). Five bucks will get you your official "Beer in The Park" 5 oz tasting glass and your first beer. Subsequent samples are just $1 and you can get pints of any of the beers for just $3! I know I'll be there!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Taking my certification seriously......

...With my "official" Mrs Cicerone headgear (made by Mr Cicerone), proudly worn at the Homebrewers Conference in Oakland recently. It was inspiring that so many homebrewers, and professional brewers that also attended the conference, knew about Ray's program. Mike and I were questioned extensively as well as congratulated by many of the beer nerds that attended. Ray held an exam at the conference which generated a new batch of Certified Cicerones. There are a growing number of us now throughout the USA, including another two women, and a small craft beer distributorship in Chicagoland that lays claim to having its complete sales staff certified! Way to go, Windy City! And congratulations to my friend Judy! We need to celebrate over a beer!

And the award goes to......

Our good friend Ray, Mr Cicerone himself. Announced at the National Homebrew Conference in Oakland last week.

"2009 American Homebrewers Association
Governing Committee Recognition Award
Honoring Ray Daniels For Outstanding Service
To The Community Of Homebrewers"

Above, L-R, Ray Daniels, Chris P. Frey, Her, Him.

And dessert was....

A sweet and sticky "slice" (as we call these in The Land of Oz) consisting of a spread of jam between thick layers of a very buttery and short pastry (thanks to Josh, a very interesting young man that has taken up with Mike's daughter) washed down with Bell's Consecrator......

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How's About This For a Sammich?

Take a portobella, brush liberally with a mixture of olive oil and balsamic, and grill for about 5 minutes a side over medium coals. Serve on a ciabatta spread with a clove of roasted garlic and mayo, along with a slice of roasted red pepper and a bit of spinach. Trust us....

Another Unlikely Pairing

Unlikely in the sense of 'unlikely anyone reading this will lay hands on the specific beer in question,' much like the homemade Pale Old Ale I was going on about recently. Unless one comes over to Casa Del Cicerones, I guess.

The beer in this case is Saison St. Clair, brewed by Dan Rogers of Big Rock in Birmingham. We're lucky to have a stash of a few bottles of this tart, spicy, effervescent beer, and we pulled one out to complement the lentil pie that Mrs. Cicerone made for dinner last night. The pie contains a mixture of lentil, onion, fennel, and red bell pepper cooked in beer, which is combined with some goat cheese, thyme and basil, seasoned with a bit of red wine vinegar and some S&P, wrapped in a phyllo crust and baked. The tartness and spicy, peppery phenolic flavors in the beer are similar to the tangy and peppery flavors of the fennel, pepper, and cheese in the pie. Similar, but not identical, which is important, as identical flavors tend to cancel each other; variations on a theme play off of one another and enhance one another. This worked well, and there's half a pie left to use in further experiments....

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dinner at Home

After a week of dining out, it sure was nice to stay in and enjoy a home-cooked meal. Actually, tonight was the second such. It was also nice to enjoy a combination of fancy limited-release commercial goodies, homework beer, and especially homebrew.

Dinner was a cold salad of orzo with baby spinach, grilled red pepper, chevre, and black olives, with some grilled marinated baby octopus. To wash it down, Victory's Wild Devil, which is Hop Devil fermented with some Brettanomyces in the mix. If you like Ommegeddon, or Les Deux Brasseurs, you will like this one. The Brett character adds an extra refreshing snap to the beer, perfect for a hot summer night.

Somewhere in there, we broke out a homework beer, St. Peters Sorgham Ale. Yes, they spell the name funny, though they spell the ingredient itself correctly. This was eminently drinkable, pale gold in color, fairly hoppy- a rather beery beverage. One of the better gluten-free beers we've tried.

Dessert was a homebrewed Pale Old Ale and some Mclelland mature Scottish cheddar. The POA was brewed about 6 months ago from Marris Otter pale ale malt and Goldings hops to an original gravity of 1.070, and 43 (calculated) BUs. The beer was produced much like a Scottish ale, with a long, vigorous kettle boil from the time the first wort was collected. The resulting beer has a rich, creamy, caramelly malt character, with a curranty nosefull of hops. Paired up with a tangy, fatty Cheddar, it's mighty fine. We'd probably still be out by the fire sipping one more if the skeeters would allow it....

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Slows beer dinner on Monday

Just in from Tara....

"Hi everyone it's our favorite time again!!!! Beer Club!!!!! This monday
@6:30pm with some special beers from Motor city brew works- even a pale ale firkin especially for us!!!! Menu will be posted soon if you have any ?s I'll be @slows Wed & Thurs so give me a call or rsvp. Hope to see you then!!!"

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thursday at Fort Street

The tireless Doug Beedy has two new beers to try:
So how about a sneak peak of our summer beers? This Thursday, June 25th, you can check them both out!

First up is our 105th cask-conditioned ale. "The Dry Summer" is a slighly different version of this year's version of "Summer Sunsation". This year we made it with wheat, oats, juniper berries, orange peel, and fermented it with a German yeast strain that is lightly fruity and refreshingly tart. With the cask, we did something that's very common at most breweries, but very rare at ours. It's a little something I like to call, "you'll see".

Second, we'll have an unfiltered version of an as yet unnamed rye pilsner on tap. Personally, I think this might be my new favorite beer. It's as crisp and refreshing as the cool breezes that blow at your back while kayaking down the Detroit River!

Two summer refreshers tapped at 8 ish p.m. and fabulous prizes for a few lucky folks in attendance!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Back To Earth

The annual AHA conference is, for us, like attending a family reunion on our home planet. Great times, great friends, and over in a twinkling. Still, it does feel good to be in our own bed. A full(er) report will follow some serious sack time....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chicago Buddies

Ray and Randy talk brewing.

Cicerone Evening Wear

No actual cicerones were harmed in the production of this headgear.

Problem and Solution

Ed found this sign which was left behind by another, less fun, conference.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Trappist Bar

Tonight, life begins at 1.060.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's For Lunch?

Beer, beer, and beer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anchor! Whoo!


Just some of the pillows Marriott thinks 2 people need. They don't think we need free internet, though.

1st Beer in CA

Sierra Nevada...

Monday, June 15, 2009

California Here We Come!

...If Delta doesn't hose us too badly, that is....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mad Hatter Day

Yet another item not posted in time to be useful:

This will be huge fun.

Another Road Trip!

We hope to get a good night's sleep this coming Sunday, because the next day we leave for Oakland, CA, site of this year's AHA National Homebrewers Conference. We're getting there a couple of days early, so that we can bumble around San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday, we are fortunate enough to get a tour of the Anchor Brewery, after which we will continue on a beery tour of Frisco. Gotta visit Toronado, and have dinner at Magnolia, home of the wonderful Blue Bell Bitter. Wednesday will be a day for exploring the gardens of Golden Gate park, and resting up our quivering livers a bit. Then it's Game On at the conference, 3 days of Total Beer Immersion. OK, it's not that different from our daily routine, except that we will be doing it with hundreds of our far-flung fellow beer nerds, many of whom we only see at this annual hootenanny. There will be vast amounts of homebrew, commercial beer, 3 tracks of presentations on various aspects of beermaking and related topics, exuberant displays of creativity, and vast amounts of homebrew. Oh, yeah, snappy dressers, too...

You get the idea....

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Road Trip!

Friday after work, we are heading to Benton Harbor. Normal people would ask why, while making a face like they are beholding an especially messy diaper. Beer nerds would say, "The Livery! All right!" Not only is the Livery a fine brewery with a very interesting array of beers, but Bonerama is performing there, in their only Michigan appearance. Never heard of Bonerama? Well, let's just say that if you haven't heard War Pigs performed by three guys on trombones, you haven't lived. Next morning, we break camp and head for Chicagoland, where our friends are having a birthday party for their son. But on the way, we might find ourselves at the Hop Leaf for a couple, at the 5th Annual Drinking & Writing Festival, where our buddy Raymo is receiving an award. After the birthday festivities, we expect to meet up with our friend Steve, and have dinner at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle. Check out their amazing beer list. Nora on tap! Sunday morning will come early, but we have to head home to get ready for the next trip... on Monday!

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Friday, June 5, 2009

New at Merchant's

Oh.....many good things! And, a new weekend guy, Kevin, who seems to be working out really well.

From my good friends at Montreal's unsurpassed Dieu du Ciel! brewery.....
RIGOR MORTIS ABT A Belgian-style abbey ale 10.5% EQUINOXE DE PRINTEMPS Scotch ale brewed with maple syrup. Excellent beers!!

From my new friends at Norway's Nogne O Brewery...
DUGGES SAHTI- Nogne O's take on the classic Finish brew. A collaboration
between Nogne O, and Sweden's Dugges Brewery. Brewed with heather honey and juniper. Truly unique!
"TOSHI" DOUBLE IPA -A collaboration between Nogne O, and Yo Ho brewing, Japan. 100BU, 8%ABV, Lotsa American hops.
SUNTURNBREW- A beer brewed "for the turning of the sun" on December 21st. It's a strong ale brewed with rye. 50BU. 11%ABV

From Japan!
SHIZUOKA NATSUMIKAN (Say that quickly!) From Baird Brewery. A malty beer brewed with fresh Shizuoka natsumikans (okay, it's a citrus fruit). They are even peeled by hand. Aromatic and lovely with our recent dinner of rare tuna, rice and edamame.
TRIPLE HOP ALE - Ise Kadoya brewery, Japan. Interesting brewery.
Interesting history. They make miso and soy sauce as well as beer. This is
a hoppy pale ale, 5.1%, brewed with, you guessed it, 3 different hops.

From Denmark!
MIKKELLER "NELSON SAUVIN" An American style IPA hopped solely with Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. Very unusual. 6.9%ABV

More from Quebec!
UNFILTERED DOPPELBOCK 9.5% I haven't tried this one yet, but will soon,
maybe with a pork loin.
RAUCHBIER Inspired by the Bamberg style, but really more like a smoked
porter. Rich, a hint of chocolate and toffee. Very nice...

ALLAGASH "CONFLUENCE"- the second in the Allagash series of mixed
fermentation beers comprising a Belgian yeast, and Brettanomyces. A
golden, dry-hopped beer, 7.5%ABV, and a good match with charcuterie and eggs benedict. So says their web page, and I think I might have to try the eggs suggestion!

Gotta love a beer with that name. It's a Weizenbock. And a lovely one.
Lots of "bock-ey" rich malt. Baked bananas and clove. If I had a baked ham
at home this would be the ticket!

From my friends at STONE BREWING....
SUBLIMELY SELF-RIGHTEOUS ALE A re-release of their 11th anniversary beer, a black IPA. 8.7%
CALI-BELGIE IPA - A California-style IPA with a Belgian yeast. 6.9% (It's
a Belgie, not a Frenchie.)

"FRULI" SRAWBERRY - From Belgium. Very fruity, a little tart, beautiful
colour. If you love the Lindeman's lambics, and you're a strawberry fan,
you'll love this beer! I think this beer will make a nice sorbet with a
little balsamic vinegar thrown in, and maybe some fresh basil.

And....Anchor Summer beer, Arbor Brewing Strawberry Blonde, (the return of) Jolly Pumpkin's Luciernaga and a new batch of Leelanau's Whaleback White (Michigan beer-of-the-month, on sale!).

Okay, I think that's it. I'm definitely going to try some of these beers
over the weekend. It's a chore sometimes, but as Mr Cicerone often says,
"a gentleman always helps a lady Cicerone with her homework."
Hmmm, what can I cook to go with the Whaleback White...

...Full post

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leftovers! Yay!

Two people are not going to finish a 3 1/2 lb. chicken in one sitting, at least not these two people. So two days after a barbecued chicken dinner, He-Cicerone made chicken salad with mainly breast meat, red bell pepper, green onion, a clove of roasted garlic, and some mayo. She-Cicerone sauteed some bok choy, green onions, and a bit of celery in oil, soy, and rooster sauce for a little side dish. We figured the chicken salad with some spinach on a pita would make a fine repast. While preparing the salad, we sampled a nice homebrewed southern English style brown ale sent to us by our new friend Brandon. It was a nice light bodied ale with a range of treacly, toffee, and black malt flavors, and I was a bit surprised to find that it went really well with the tidbits I was nibbling on while I worked. That beer was quickly gone, but I knew we'd have to have some schwarzbier, which has many similar flavors, and which is currently on tap. The original plan was to have some dunkel, so we had that, too. Mmm, mm.

Still two drumsticks and a wing left for someone's lunch, too....

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Utility Players?

In baseball, we talk of utility players, those who perform pretty well in many positions. There are some beers like that, too, that work pretty well with a lot of different foods. Many times, these are pretty simple beers that just provide a non-distracting contrast and refresh the palate. Irish stout is a classic case- good at cooling spicy Mexican- and Thai- singed tongues, cutting the sweetness of heavy sauces, etc. Moving upward in complexity, Munich lagers, both light and dark, seem to taste good with most any main dish- a good Helles can seem lightly hoppy or lightly malty depending on the food you're eating. Garrett Oliver seems to reach for a Biere de Garde an awful lot in his book The Brewmaster's Table; this is another characterful, but balanced, beer.

Who's your favorite 'utility player?'

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chook and Beer

For those that don't speak Australian, a chook is a chicken. On Sunday morning, we looked down at our rather prodigious crop of sage, and I noted that the sight of that fine herb made me want to cook a chicken. So, I bought a chicken, and a cauliflower, (why the hell not!) and made fire. Tucked some sage under the breast skin, a little more in the cavity, along with some crushed garlic cloves and an onion. Roasted it at medium heat for a couple of hours with a smoky fire in the firebox, and another hour with just coals. During that last hour, the cauliflower, drizzled with oil in an iron skillet, joined the chook. A fine start. What about beer?

Well, Mrs. Cicerone had a backlog of homework, so we picked a few we thought might work. First up, a rauchbier from Quebec brewers Trois Mosquetaires. Rauchbier sounded like just the ticket. Actually, says the Shelton Brothers website, it's "inspired by rauchbier." A nice, very dark brown beer, it has a bit more in common with the typical smoked porter than Bamberg rauchbier. It stood up to the rich smoke and sage flavors of the chicken well. Another homework assignment was to revisit Routes des Epices(scroll down linked page for description) from Dieu du Ciel in Montreal. This deep amber-brown beer uses a portion of rye in the grist, and is spiced with black peppercorns (the name translates to "Spice Route" in English.) A wonderful beer with a wide range hearty food, if not a true utility player. I also kept a nice homemade helles nearby, for safety's sake. So how did all this work out? Well, the chicken had all kinds of flavor hooks to play with: smoke, caramel/browned, sage, garlic, meaty, fatty. The cauliflower also had some good browned/caramel flavors, as well. The Mosquetaires showed the merest hint of smoke, with roasty, coffee, and toffee flavors most prominent. Nice, but not a killer match. The Spice Route has caramel malt type richness, a bit of rye, and a fruitiness in the nose and the flavor. Plus the pepper, which contributes to the fruity, spicy aroma, and long, lingering glow. Black pepper is definitely on the list of good things to flavor beers with besides hops, and it's a good thing to put on your chicken, too. A great matchup. And the helles? Aww, yeah. Sage and Saaz hops play together nicely; a good pair in intensity and herbal character. Hard to go wrong with helles on your table....

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

#300 At Fort Street

Must be something in the water! This is actually the 300th different beer for Doug. Quoth the Brewmaster:
It seems like only yesterday we celebrated our 200th beer (actually it was March 27th, 2008), but this Thursday, June 4th, we'll tap our 300th beer! To celebrate, we'll also tap our 301st beer! The 300th beer is a braggot style called "Noche de los Rabano". About 40% of the fermentables came from radish honey. This 8% ABV ale has a unique, somewhat spicy, and very dry finish. I would label it a "can't miss". Our 301st beer is our 4th edition of "Build A Beer" (the beer made with ingredients drawn from a hat). This month's version is also very unique. It's malty, without the sweetness, very hoppy, and quite low in alcohol. Since we're tapping a "Build A Beer", that means that we'll be drawing more ingredients for the 5th "Build A Beer". Good times! Good times!

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