Friday, July 31, 2009

Brew-Ha-Ha at Fort Street Update

Quoth Brewmaster Doug:
Brew-ha-ha-yeeee-haaaaa! The big week is finally upon us! All of you who spend all year looking forward to seeing what unique and delicious beers we'll bring to the MBG Fest and were disapointed that we didn't go, can now rejoice! This Saturday, August 1st we celebrate all things beer from 1-8 p.m. at the Fort Street Brewery. We'll have six new beers on tap and 14 beers total on tap. If you think you can come Sunday or Monday and get them, you'll be sorry! This is one day only and the six new one's will be gone! In addition to the beers, we'll have a special beer inspired food menu all week, with a couple of extra items on Saturday. More about the food later. We'll also have some great local homebrewers brewing up some beer all day long if you're interested in the brewing process or getting into homebrewing. Jason Smith from Adventures in Homebrewing will be one of those brewers, and he'll be happy to answer your brewing questions. For beers, we'll have our normal seven beers, plus: "Ring Around the Roselare" (a Flemish red style), "Hops in the Shade" (an IPA made witha couple of new hops I got and fermented with the same yeast as Summer Sunsation), "Brown Coffee" (a brown ale made with coffee), "Bourbon Cherry Brown" (a brown ale made with 40% wheat that I added bourbon soaked cherries to), "The Grapes and Grains of Wrath" (grape and grain fermented together. Essentially a porter/port combination), "Cherries Gone Wild" (malt and cherry juice fermented together with wild yeast. Unlike any fruit beer you've ever had!), and finally "Up North" (a rye pilsner). It's $5 to get your official logo pint glass and your first 5 oz sample. Additional samples are just $1 and all pints are just $3 for the duration of Brew-Ha-Ha! Five of the beers will be set-up out on the patio, and that's where you can get your glass and tickets. The big brewery door will be open, so feel free to wander around in the brewery and see what's going on back there...
...But did you know that in addition to being Brew-Ha-Ha! day, August 1st is also National Mustard Day? I hope that doesn't affect attendance! This week on "Can You Get Drunk From Eating Beer Batter?", you'll hear Francisco say, "See, I told ya people like parsley!" In honor of Brew-Ha-Ha!, we'll be serving up Beer Battered Shroom Fries (made with portabella mushrooms), Grilled Drunken Shrimp Salad (a salad topped with grilled shrimp that was marinated in beer and spices), Beer Pizza (mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and beer made into a sauce, plus pepperoni and mozzarella), Beef Stout Pie (sort of a beef and beer pot pie), Beer-BQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, and Grilled Mustard Crusted Whitefish (not made with beer, but goes good with beer). On Saturday, we'll also have Beer Can Chicken and Cassoulet (a beer lover's twist on the classic French stew). To summarize: great beer food all week long, 14 tremendous beers on tap Saturday from 1-8 p.m., people brewing beers, people drinking beers, and the funny sight of a headless chicken with a beer can shoved you know where!

...Full post

Thursday, July 30, 2009

RIP King Brewing

Yesterday night, we attended a wake. A wake that featured a Zappa tribute band, which is a little different than the typical wake. After 15 years, King Brewing in Pontiac lost their lease and shut down. Here's owner and brewer Scott King's announcement:
Comrades in Beer:

Well.... You can't say we haven't tried. Unfortunately, we came up short. King Brewing Co., after almost 15 years of fighting the good fight, will be closing on July 29th. We have laughed, we have cried, we have lost money....In the end, our landlord wanted his building and we couldn't do a thing about it.

Maybe in the future we will have an opportunity to brew again, but right now we are focusing on the next two weeks. Therefore, we are going to party like rockstars! There is beer to be consumed!! Please, please, please come by. Drink beer. Get your mug. Say goodbye for now. We will be filling mug club beers for happy hour prices until the 29th. On the 29th we are celebrating, appropriately, with ZAPPA. Ugly Radio Rebellion will be here to say goodbye. Please come by, often, to see us off.

If you have time and want to move large sh*t, we could certainly use the help. And please if possible, attempt to say little about our situation. Or at least nice things about us. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support and allowing us to enter your lives. I can't imagine a better group of people. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. It has been an amazing run and you have been the most important part.

Sincerely thank you,

Scott King

This was a sad day for us here at Chez Cicerone. We have enjoyed some great times at the pub, especially the annualish Guitar Virtuosos night. We've been pleased to recommend King's Irish Red to everyone who thought the style was without merit. Mocha Java Stout bested every other contender in our beer float studies. Scott and (King GM) Kristy Smith have been stalwarts in the Michigan beer scene; generous and enthusiastic in every way, people that put a smile on your face just thinking of them.
Mr. Cicerone judged his first-ever beer competition at the pub, with Scott.
The dream scenario would be starting up another brewery in a more favorable location. Here's to King.

...Full post

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blogger Family Tree

Is fashion sense a heritable trait? Here is a photo of my little bro, taken at the MBG Summer Festival:

And here is a picture of our dad:


...Full post

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Real Different Competition

Last Thursday, Mrs. Cicerone and I participated in a blind tasting for an article in Real Detroit Weekly, at the behest of a nice young man named Eric Allen. This was one item in their Beer Issue, which contains a slew of beer related items and features our friend Travis Fritts on the cover. In addition to our desire to help out and promote good beer, the desire to have some tasty beer and pizzas afterward was a draw, as the tasting was held at the Motor City Brewing Works pub. There were 69 beers to judge, and 3 panels of 3 judges to do it all. On a school night. The crew from Real Detroit are not beer nerds, like the rest of the crew that night, and so hadn't fully come up with a plan that would allow us to judge all the beers and get home before dawn. Fortunately, Mrs. Cicerone, AKA The Queen of Organization, stepped up to assist and soon we were chugging right along. Well, smelling and sipping right along....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cicerone Squad

On the job in Ypsilanti, at the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Festival. Whoo. All we could do was try to strike a balance between rarely-available favorites like Nicey Spicey, and seeking out the new, knowing all the while that we could only take a small sampling of what was on offer. Non-negotiable was some cask Sheerwater IPA from Grizzly Peak, which I continue to be in love with. Michigan rocks!

Friday, July 24, 2009


If you are at the MBG Summer Festival tonight, Be On the Lookout for strangely-attired Cicerones....

Short's Beer Dinner at Slows- Monday!

From Tara.....
"Monday 7/27 @6:30pm Shorts Beer Dinner at Slows BarBQ Hi everyone!!! Brian is working on another fabulous dinner for Monday nightwith Shorts beers!!!- First time a Strawberry "SHORTS"cake beer will be on tap- paired with dessert of course. We will also be serving 4 other yummy beers from shorts.(you know crazzyy scientists Joe & Scott are)- so should be a lot of fun and of course delicious!!!

Hope you can make it out- any?s let me know- or RSVP @313-962-9828, Much

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More about chicken, and Julia!

The Chicken a la Julia was roasted very simply; trussed, salted lightly and smeared with butter. That's it. Basted every 8 minutes with a butter/oil mix keeping warm on the stove. So, I didn't get out of the kitchen much during the 1 1/2hour cooking time. Results - deliciously moist and very "chickeny", just as Julia said it should be. It all begins with the chook though; I guarantee that one of those frozen "enhanced with up to 12% saline solution" chooks that one buys at the supermarket would not have tasted nearly as fine. We always take the time to procure a fresh one, it's SO worth it.

I grew up in a Jewish household where roasted chook was a weekly event, at least. Whole roasted chook, not fried, or cut up into pieces, but lovingly roasted whole, with the drumsticks, neck bones and giblets the prized parts. My father (before he passed)loved roasted chicken, boiled chicken, chicken soup, chicken liver, chicken giblets, chicken schmaltz, and artery-clogging gribenes. (This all led, at least in part, to his early demise from heart disease.) My step father worked at a chicken processing plant (good story about rooster testicles saved for another blog), and from this he progressed to purchasing a "chicken farm". He "grew" the chickens that were sent to the processing plant which ended up on our table. (My poor mother's job was to carry a bucket to the sheds every day and collect the dead chicks.) So I learned to cook chicken, make soup and make chicken liver taste divine (fry in schmaltz, lots of chopped onion) by watching my mother. I also learned to sit at the far end of the table at family gatherings, away from my old European uncles who chewed their chicken bits loudly, wetly and "spatteringly" (ugh!).

I'll end this blog with a quote from Julia. I wish I could have met this wonderfully adventurous, intelligent, warm and delightful woman. She certainly coloured outside the lines. She lived a long and fulfilling life bursting with fun and love. She could cook! And, she loved good beer!

"My Life in France", while living in Germany
(Talking about the American army personnel living close by)
"They drank beer, but only the lighter, American-style beers. What a shame! They were surrounded by some of the most wonderful beers in the world! We liked German beers."

...Full post

What about the beets, and the beer?

Roasted golden beetroot (as we call them in The Land of Oz) dressed in walnut oil also accompanied our Chicken a La Julia. Mmmm...

Beers. Firestone Walker's Double Barrel Ale. It's an English-style pale ale using the brewery's Burton Union system of fermentation. Oh, what a perfect beer. It's malty, complex, very "clean" and just delicious. And perfect with the caramelly notes from the chicken and the sweetness of the beets. Mike's dunkel also went perfectly. And his helles wasn't a bad match either. I think we had some rauchbier! We also tried a bottle we brought back from our recent CA trip- Russian River's "Temptation", a blonde ale aged in chardonnay barrels. It was truly unique and delicious, softly malty, appropriate sourness, a little woody and with a definite white grapey taste. Mmmm. At $22.99 for a half-bottle, I was hoping it would be great. Not a great match with the chicken mind you, but a wonderful aperitif.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chook for Dinner, Julia Style

Mrs. Cicerone has a bit of a girl-crush on the late Julia Child, and is in the middle of a(nother) biography of her. One tidbit about cooking she noted was that Mrs. Child felt strongly that anyone considering themselves any sort of fine cook must be able to do a great roast chicken. Thus, tonight's repast, done exactly as Julia herself would do, with a nice fresh chicken from Eastern Market (Saad's.) Also, sauteed leeks, mmmm.

I am doing my part by sitting outside on my ass doing blog posts. Also, I did sort of provide for such an eventuality by having dunkel, rauchbier, helles, and other nice things on tap here at Chez Cicerones. I am betting on the rauchbier...

Julia and her husband Paul had a great time together, and lived to the fullest. Here's to that.

My Old-Timey Glass

This is the last remaining glass from a set of cheap beer glasses my mother bought sometime after setting up her household, and probably before I was born. Because of the shape, once you drink down to a certain point, around 1/3 left, you are in the 'bloop zone' and must finish your beer or get a bloop! splash in the eye when you right the glass. My beer drinking grandfather and his brother were never fond of these glasses for that reason, but somehow, to me, it is the quintessential Regular Beer Glass. (Shown full of helles.)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Nice Dinner

Roasted Vidalia onions stuffed with minced spiced lamb, served with Brussels sprouts drizzled with an old mellow balsamic and some diced caramelized leeks (Thanks, Tracy!) 'Twas picture perfect, but devoured before the thought of photographing it for you occurred. The beer we chose was Brooklyn's Local 2, which we'd been looking forward to getting out. Really nice together, lots of sweet flavors and spicy phenolic flavors playing on our tongues.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cicerone Stuff Next Week in A2

For aspiring Cicerones: (from an email sent by Ray Daniels)

Certified Cicerone(tm) Class and Exam

Class: Thursday, July 23, 2009 - 5:30 pm to 9 pm
Arbor Beverage Company, 265 Parkland Plaza, Ann Arbor, MI

Exam: Friday, July 24, 2009 - 10 am-2 pm
Blue Tractor Brewpub, 207 East Washington St., Ann Arbor, MI

Note: Advance enrollment required for both sessions.

Dear Cicerone Certification Program Participant,

Please join us for a Certified Cicerone class and exam in Ann Arbor MI before the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in neighboring Ypsilanti on July 23 & 24.
Review Class - Thursday July 23, 5:30 pm - 9 pm

A three-hour seminar featuring lecture and tasting. This course reviews key knowledge required for the Certified Cicerone™ exam and provides attendees with an opportunity to participate in the specific types of tasting problems presented in the exam. Topics covered include draft system terminology and concepts, beer style analysis, taste and off flavor terminology, process and ingredient highlights and a brief review of beer and food pairing concepts.

This seminar may be taken at any point in the candidate's preparation for the Certified Cicerone™ exam, but it is not a comprehensive preparation course and this alone cannot prepare you for the exam. Please review the Master Syllabus on to fully familiarize yourself with the knowledge covered by this exam. See links below to register.
Certified Cicerone(tm) Exam - Friday July 24, 10 am - 2 pm

Here's your chance to take the Certified Cicerone exam in beautiful downtown Ann Arbor perfect for those who want to check out the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival. See links below to register.
Use these links to register for the course, the exam, or both.

Exam Only: $295

Exam and Review Class: $374

Review Class Only: $99

If you have any questions, feel free to email or call.


Ray Daniels
Director, Cicerone Certification Program
Twitter: Cicerone_org

Email Marketing by
Craft Beer Institute | 8 Blocks South of the Hop Leaf | Chicago | IL | 60640

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Friday, July 17, 2009

New at Merchant's

*DOGFISH HEAD SAH'TEA Sam's take on traditional Finnish SAHTI. Brewed with
rye, juniper & Chai tea. Hmmm,and it WAS interesting. It tasted like juniper and chai tea. Sweet, viscous, a couple of ounces of this was enough for me. We shared this with our homebrew club.
*SOUTHERN TIER CREME BRULEE STOUT (Returns!) A fabulous offering from this great brewery, if you like vanilla caramelly stouts!
*STONE BREWING 13TH ANNIVERSARY ALE They say there are more pounds of hops per barrel in this Imperial Red Ale than in any other beer they have brewed. I'm a little scared.....Our friend Aaron, the rep for Stone, says "drink this one now, while the aromatics are prominent".
*GREAT DIVIDE'S CHOCOLATE OAK-AGED YETI IMPERIAL STOUT. It's got a dash of cayenne pepper in it. Sounds wonderful- can't wait to try this one. While I'm not a big fan of chocolate stout, I love the combination of dark chocolate and chili pepper. It's great in ice cream, and probably good in beer also.
*JOLLY PUMPKIN BAM WEIZEN (Returns)Mmm, lovely summer beer!
*EISENBAHN (Brazil) "LUST". Another lovely beer using the Methode
Champenoise technique. Gorgeous bottle. I've been known to give this one to friends about to be wed.
*HEAVY SEAS (Clipper City Brewing, Baltimore), THE BIG DIPA Double IPA 22oz. I've not had this, but all the Heavy Seas beers are nicely done, and tasty. And, gotta love the piratey theme!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Kegs & Eggs update

(Just in from Tara)

House Smoked Pastrami!!!!!!
Which has been in a brine since the 13th!!! It will be mouth watering on
See you then

Ann Arbor Beer Week

JULY 20-23RD


ASHLEY'S, TUESDAY 21st, 6PM, tapping of the only Michigan keg of CANTILLON ST LAMVINUS!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ole. Mole.

(Okay, that was dorky....)
I LOVE good mole. The problem is, it can be hard to find. And, if you do, chances are that the beer choices at the restaurant serving the mole don't quite do the dish justice. Solution? Make some! It's buckets of work, but if you have the time, really worth it. I've had all the ingredients in a Tupperware bin in the pantry for some time now, just waiting for a spare three hours. And I found it yesterday between Sunday's domestic chores and leaving to see "Seraphine" at the Detroit Film Theatre (which I missed, but that's another story.) So.... deseed a ton of mixed dry chile peppers, toast, soak, blend, grind, repeat, repeat, repeat, until all the chile peppers, black raisins, sesame seeds, nuts, pumpkin seeds, Abuelita Mexican chocolate, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns, and toasted tortillas magically turn into a dark red, rich, spicy, nutty, chocolate-y, scrumptious, tantalizing mole. We had a bunch of leftover smoked turkey that tasted absolutely wonderful covered with the mole, and decided to pair it with Mr Cicerone's famed rauchbier. Given that I'd also used some dried chipotles in the chile pepper mix, this was a stellar match. And the dunkel wasn't bad either..... The good news is that all that work does produce a huge amount of mole; we ate less than a quarter of it last night. So, there will be a few more mole dinners coming up....

...Full post

Wanna be the Dogfish Head rep?

This is posted on the Dogfish Head web page. I just read it, and you know, if it wasn't for the fact that I'm old, and want to see Mr Cicerone every day (who, as we speak, is brewing up some ginger-laden wheat beer), I might have put in an application for this position. Sometimes I DO miss the Regional Sales Manager's life. It's really hard work, but fun, rewarding and exciting. You get to meet so many great and like-minded people. And, everyone loves you! "You're the B. United/Bell's/Stone/Dogfish Head (or whatever) rep? Wow! Cool! You rock!"

"Mid-West Regional Sales Manager required.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has a once in a lifetime opportunity to join our dynamic sales force as a Regional Sales Manager in the Mid-West Region, currently encompassing Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. There is potential for this region to build/reshape if the successful candidate possesses the necessary skills, experience, knowledge and motivation to champion new/growing market(s). The RSM will work closely with regional distributors, key retail, and restaurant accounts to promote and foster brand loyalty and development. You will be required to travel over 50% of the time to markets within your region. During the course of travel, you will be responsible for "work-withs" and distributor training. Another key responsibility will be hosting beer dinners, festivals and promotions throughout your territory. You will provide in-depth and detailed reporting and market analysis to enable good decision-making within your marketplace.
The qualified candidate will have a bachelor's degree in Marketing, Biz or other relevant discipline. You must have a minimum 3 years sales support, sales rep or distributor experience, preferably in the beer business. More significant career experience may replace part of the undergrad requirement. You gotta be able to work late nights, early mornings, weekend and holidays as necessary to support sales activities. You must be able to maintain your sobriety and professionalism while working in environments where the taps may be flowing, and a clean driving record is essential. You must also have exceptional communication skills, both written and spoken, and strong PC skills with MS Office applications.
If interested, please send a cover letter with resume and salary requirements to or fax your resume to (302) 684-0541."

...Full post

Brew Day, Batch #304

Ginger Wheat, this evening. 1.042 OG, 20% flaked wheat, 25% light Munich, and the balance good ol' Briess 2 row. Some whole Cascade hops in the kettle, amounting to less than 15 BU and included more for their mechanical and chemical properties than for bittering or balance. Plus buckets of ginger, some for 60 minutes, some for about 5. Hopefully there will be a little bit of heat from the ginger. Yeah....

Coming Up at Fort Street

Sez Doug:
Greetings and salutations!

We were begining to think we were gonna have to change the name of "Summer Sunsation" to "Fall By the Wayside". But believe it or not, we finally emptied a tank of something! It wasn't the tank we had wanted to empty, but hey, we'll take it.
So this Thursday, July 16th, you'll finally get to drink the 5th edition of "Summer Sunsation". Subtitled, "My summer as a juggling, unicycle riding, sleep deprived brewer at a brewery that can't seem to find any employees". Made with oats, wheat, barley, juniper berries, orange peel, corriander, blood, sweat, and tears. It's one seriously refreshing beer! As an added bonus, we'll also be tapping "Wild Horses". This is an absolute treat that I should save all for myself, but I'll be generous and share this rare delight with you. Fermented with brettanomyces yeast, this light ale is a complex cornicopia of flavors. If you like lambics, cheese that sells for $25/lb and tastes like it should cost more, a glass of ice cold water when you're about to die of heat exhaustion, or koala bears, you will definately like this beer. The festivities kick off precisely at 8ish p.m. As usual, we'll have some fabulous prizes for a few lucky folks in attendance.
Our liquor of the week is Pama liqueur. You can get a Pama Breeze (Pama, vodka, grapefruit, and cranberry juices) for just $3, or a Pama Kiss (Pama, apple vodka, and cranberry juice) for just $3.50. In addition to that, the tasty liquors we introduced last week (Sailor Jerry Rum and Milagro tequila) are still still on sale! You already know that we have great pitcher specials for every Detroit Tiger game, until 6 p.m. on Saturday, and all day on Sunday. You also know that we sell turkey legs as big as giant babies for just $2 every Tuesday. But did you know that even though koala bears have pouches, they rarely carry a wallet. So if you ever meet one in a bar, you'll be the one buying.
There's only like 18 days left until Brew-Ha-Ha! It's the beer event of the season, and all the cool people will definately be there.
This week on, "Why Don't People Eat Lunch Anymore?!", you'll hear Pete ask, "Why don't people eat lunch here anymore?" You'll also hear Frank say, "Parsley makes the food look better." And finally, you'll hear Nicole say, "What happened to all the parsley?"
You know this is National Bean month, and Michigan is the nation's leading producer of beans. So on your plate this week, look for Chili Con Carne (made with beans and other tasty stuff), Chicken & Black Bean Salad (made with beans and other tasty stuff), Chicken Pot Pies, Baked Potato Pizzas, Shepherd's Pie, and Chesapeake Crab Reubens (made with crab and other tasty stuff).
In summary: summer beers before summer is over; mmmm, cheese; cheap booze; koala bears with turkey legs in their pouches; Brew-Ha-Ha tickets that are so hot they're en feugo; space available during lunch; and beans to make you toot!

Brett beer? We're there!

...Full post

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kegs and Eggs at Slows- July 19

From Tara......

Hey Everyone!!! So to help bring you some more fun in the sun we here at Slows are hosting our first Kegs & Eggs Patio Brunch. Chef Brian & Michael are planning some fun & yummy beer friendly breakfast delights-- do I dare say scotch eggs!!! Also Aaron from Stone Brewery and Jon from Arcadia will be on hand to answer any beer questions since we will be serving Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale, Stone Levitation Ale & a gravity poured Arcadia Whitsun. We also will be tapping in to Breckenridge's Agave Wheat, all said beers are quite yummy with eggs!!! So here how it goes $25 for 4beers and food!!!! how can u beat this???--You can't!!! Beer starts at 12pm-state rules!!! Food will be out and going from 12:30-3pm(or until gone)!!!! We will be running the beer &fun until at least 5pm!!! Music, BEER,Eggs,Brewer garb & lots'O fun!!!! Hope you are able to make it!!!! Please let us know if you are so food will be ample!!! Brian and Michael are also working on smoking their own breakfast sausage!!!--I mean, I'm just saying!!!! See you on the 19th!!!!-Tara

JULY 19 12PM-5PM (FOOD 12:30-3PM)

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An excellent, and long list of beer tasting vocabulary

Published on his blog by Fal Allen, formerly of Anderson Valley Brewing,
now living, and brewing, in Singapore. I had the pleasure, many years ago,
to have a couple of beers with this nice man.

New to me is the term "linalool" (Mr Cicerone?)

I think I'll start using "voluptuous" to describe Great Lakes Glockenspiel
Weizenbock, and Mr Cicerone's Pale Old Ale....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Thursday at Fort Street

A cask-- Says Doug:
This Thursday, July 9th, at 8ish p.m., we'll be tapping our 106th cask-conditioned ale. "Green Oranges & Hops" is Piston Pale Ale with bitter orange peel added to the cask. Slam A. Pop says, "I like green oranges and hops! I would drink it here, I would drink it there, I would drink it anywhere!" If you like oranges, hops, cask-conditioned beer, or breakfast in bed, you'll like it too!

Sounds like a good combination....

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Unfinished Business

As I mentioned in a previous post, the inspiration for batch 300 came from Weyerbacher 12. Skip, my co-conspirator in the the brewing process, had never had this beer, until we put that right yesterday. At around 2 years old, this rye barleywine had become a bit more candyish, but still had some good hop balance. The body is so amazingly heavy that watching the bubbles rise slooowly is reminiscent of Motor Medic. How I wish we could find some more of this great beer. It's better than it sounds, kids, and in around a year we'll be enjoying (hopefully) a similar beer in abundance.


Start with a big and heavy dutch oven heated until really hot and make a rich, dark roux. Add a ton of onion, celery and bell pepper, cook until just softened, then add a ton of garlic (12 cloves!), some cayenne and some fresh herbs. Add fish stock, two big links of sliced browned andouille, a pound of sliced okra, salt & pepper and simmer for about 45 minutes. Taste often and groan with pleasure. When the okra is cooked add a pound or so of raw large shrimp, a pound of crawfish tail meat along with the juices and fat, and a few whole crawfish just for fun. Simmer for another 15 minutes or so. Serve with rice, home made cornbread and a big green salad. Groan with pleasure (again). Add a warm summer evening and four good friends. (Try to add a brother-in-law and girlfriend to join in the festivities, but turns out they're in another country today.) Add lots of Munich Helles, Munich Dunkel, and even a little rauchbier, all on tap at our house (Mr Cicerone's homebrew). More groaning, lots of stories and lots of laughter. Sit around the fire until the mozzies drive us inside.

And dessert? Home made ginger ice cream with Dragonmead's Armageddon Grand Cru, a Belgian style quad. A great match, the spiciness of the beer blending in with the spicy ginger in the ice cream.

What a good life we lead.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Brew Day, Batch #303

The long-awaited (by me, anyway) rye peppercorn pale ale is being brewed today.

Doughed in.

Target OG is 1.052-1.056 from Briess 2 row with 15% light Munich and 15% flaked rye.

Running off first wort into the kettle. So far, so good. Time for a first beer- how about a wee ESB?

Commencing sparge. Might be time for a Maibock.

Kettle's about half full. Going to throttle back on the beer intensity and have a helles. Mmm.

All in the kettle, nearing boil. Think it's time for a 300A.

Boil established and stabilized, better do my hop calcs. Target is 35 BU from Nugget, with a small 15 minute addition of Nugget and 5 minutes of just a touch of Cascade. Plus 50g of crushed Tellicherry pepper at 5. Aww, yeah. Might also be time for a little schwarzbier....

Kettle hops in, and the schwarz tastes pretty fine.

Last hop/pepper addition in, about to strike boil. Must be time for some dunkel.

This wort smells indescribably good. See?

Chilled down now to a frigid 70F, the wort is running into the fermenters. OG looks to be 1.052. Must be time for some of that Imperial Pils!

Whoo! Extreme, dude!

Alrighty, two fermenters full of wort, pitched with the venerable and versatile 1056. Nothing left but swamping out the kettle, and grilling us some pork chops for dinner.

In about six weeks, this beer oughta rock, if past is precedent. For those who wonder what a beer made with peppercorns as a significant flavoring is like, and who are unable to join us at Chez Cicerone for one, I would recommend Dieu du Ciel's Route des Epices (Spice Route) which also has rye in the grist, and Short's Nicey Spicey, which has lemongrass, ginger, and black pepper.

And if it seems that the brewmaster has been somewhat of the lush during today's brew session, I would note that all of the above mentioned beers are on draft here at the brewery, and each beer was of about a 4 oz. serving size...


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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Motor City at Slows

A quick rundown of the recent Beer Club dinner at Slows:

First course paired cask Pale Ale with a wonderful cold melon and cucumber soup, drizzled with walnut oil and garnished with black radish. Next was a grilled shrimp served over couscous with chopped apple dressed with pomegranate yogurt, paired with Gear Oil, a sour brown ale. Next, Nut Brown Ale with skirt steak and grilled zucchini, summer squash, and portobellas. Then, Honey Porter with barbecued chicken, meaty pit-smoked baked beans, red cabbage, and corn pudding. While everyone was down on the canvas with the count at 7, out came the dessert, an apple rhubarb crumble swimming in butter and topped by homemade ginger ice cream. With cider. (Cue Homer-style gurgling and drooling.)

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National Homebrewers Conference notes....

If any of the homebrewers out there have not attended the annual conference, let me just say that YOU MUST. It's educational with loads of beery fun for full three days, and you're surrounded by the nicest bunch of people you've ever met. I don't think I saw a single frown in three full days (well, maybe when the hospitality suite closed and kicked us out at 2AM), just loads of big smiley faces. I'm not a homebrewer, but I love going every year. There's always plenty of things for me to learn or just enjoy during the seminars, and depending which city it's being held in, lots of commercial beer choices from local breweries as well as endless choices of creative homebrew. This year, being in Oakland, California, I finally got to try a bunch of Russian River brews (there were 5 Belgian-style and barrel-aged beers on tap at a bar a couple of blocks from the hotel) as well as listen to the "Funkification: a 100% Brettanomyces Spontaneously Fermented Mind Dump by Vinnie Cilurzo" seminar, all the while sipping his Sanctification 100% Brett beer and Beatification, his spontaneously fermented beer. A real treat. And, as I listened in rapt attention to Firestone Walker's Matt Brynildson talk about his Burton Union I sipped happily on Double Barrel Pale Ale, and Double DOUBLE Barrel Pale.....
Professional Brewers Night exhibited about 45 breweries; the aforementioned Russian River & Firestone Walker, Lost Abbey, Stone, Magnolia, The Bruery, Sierra Nevada, Anchor, Dogfish, Sam Adams, Rogue, the list goes on and on. I remember enjoying a unique Moonlight Brewing pale ale spiced with redwood tips instead of hops. Mmmm. And, I was "in" on the sharing of a jeroboam filled with aged Russian River Supplication (if memory serves me correctly- I do know it was a sour fruit beer).
Club Night was, as usual, a blast, with clubs showing off their best beers, costumes, and booth themes. My beer-overloaded brain remembers a fabulous cedar-aged IPA, a prune lambic, Berliner Weisse, rauchbier, a fabulous coconut porter (not my favourite type of beer, but this one was great), and a host of others.
The finale to the conference was the banquet and awards ceremony where we were treated to a fantastic meal prepared by "the homebrew chef" Sean Paxton using Rogue beers in the preparation of all courses, and served with more Rogue beers. Our Asian-inspired salad was served with Rogue's "Mom" hefeweizen, a Belgian-style wit brewed with ginger along with the usual other spices. A sublime pork tenderloin marinated in Rogue's "Charlie" followed; it was served with an apricot chutney that also incorporated the beer, and Rogue American Amber was the beer that was served with this course. A nice match; malt and hops playing nicely with the sweetness of the meat and the fruitiness of the apricots. Dessert, a chocolate explosion of mousse, grains of chocolate malt and chocolate chips all served in a chocolate shell was paired with a Rogue Chocolate Imperial Stout, a beer that I believe is not readily available in the USA, well, not in Michigan. (Rogue have a series of beers exported to Japan, and this was one of them.) Chocolate with chocolate can be "too much" sometimes, but the beer was roasty and well-hopped as well as bitter chocolate-y and it balanced the sweetness of the dessert perfectly. During this meal we also opened various bottles we'd purchased from "City Beer", and the hands-down winner of these was "Mirror Mirror", a strong pale from Deschutes Brewing based on their fabulous Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Although somewhere in the mix, I think with the pork, we enjoyed a wonderful rye saison from The Bruery. The evening was a fitting finale to the conference, more so when it was announced that fellow Michiganders Jeff & Susan Rankert from the Ann Arbor Brewers Guild won a gold medal for their barley wine, and our friends Bob & Kim Barrett (in absentia, also from Ann Arbor BG) won silver for their wheat beer. Michigan homebrewers are the best!
We arrived home late the next day, tired but happy, as the saying goes. And.....Delta Airlines, I'm VERY pleased to say, did not lose us, or our luggage!!

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