What is the point of beer styles? Historically, beer styles were just names of the city of origin for the style, like Pilsner, Vienna lager, Dortmunder Export, etc. Or they were the beers eventual destination, like India pale ale, Baltic Porter, or Russian imperial stout. More often than not, the meaning of the name changes over time. India pale ale is better known as IPA; regardless of where it is being shipped to. The stout porter, which was originally known as a stronger porter (in both alcohol and flavor), eventually just started to be called stout. Today, the primary differing factor between stout and porter is simply the addition of roasted barley, giving a stout a more pronounced roast character over the typically sweeter or more chocolatey flavors of porter.
Today in the American craft beer world beer styles have become even more confusing. I once heard someone argue that a particular double IPA tasted more like a double pale ale. The odd thing is, despite the fact that neither the Brewer’s Association or the Beer Judge Certification Program recognizes double pale ale as a style, I still knew what they meant. The often rumored origin of India pale ale was that it was an extra strength pale ale; with the added alcohol and hops used to withstand a voyage to India from England. While I think it’s perfectly fair to argue that an extra strength pale ale is the same as a double pale ale is the same as an IPA; IPA nowadays is predominately recognized by its intense hop aroma and flavor (I’d argue that bitterness doesn’t matter, with Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA being an example of a non-bitter IPA). (more…)
Dan Gordon is one of the co-founders of Gordon Biersch brewery in San Jose, California. You’ve likely visited one of their restaurants or brewpubs; there’s even a brewery here in Las Vegas, along with an attached restaurant, and a second standalone restaurant.
With winter upon us (well, not quite there yet in Vegas; the high is 70º F today), Gordon Biersch has released their winter seasonal, aptly named Winterbock. Lagers in general are under appreciated in the craft beer market here in the US, and of those, bocks are especially so. Bocks of all varieties are some of my favorite lager beers, with special recognition going to doppelbocks. Gordon Biersch’s Winterbock is no exception. The beer has a strong, toasty malt aroma and has the classic, clean lager fermentation profile. The flavor in this beer all comes from the use of dark malts; imparting flavors of plum and raisins, but finishing with a clean, dry finish. The aftertaste has a bit of a warm, alcohol sensation, making this perfect for a cold winter’s night.
I reached out to Dan Gordon to find more out about Winterbock, and the brewery in general. Thank you Dan for taking the time to speak with us, and thank you for brewing a delicious doppelbock! (more…)
Aside from the pumpkin beers, fall is typically characterized by Oktoberfest style beers. But does anyone really know what an Oktoberfest beer is? How is this style of beer any different from festbier, Märzen, or the classic Vienna lager? Here in America, we do not have the rich history of lager style beers that Europe, and in particular Germany, has. Oftentimes, we Americans tend to lump most lager styles together, so I thought that in honor of Oktoberfest, I would explore the history of this style.
Prior to the mid 1800’s, beer in Germany primarily consisted of dark styles, like dunkels and bocks. This changed in the early 1800’s when Gabriel Sedlmayr, whose family owned the Spaten brewery, took a trip around Europe to learn other styles of beer production. When Sedlmayr saw that England was using coke to dry malt, allowing the malted barley to be a paler color, he brought this technique back to Germany and shared the idea of using these types of malt to make German style beers.
Contrary to what may be suggested, I do enjoy wine. Typically just the red varieties though. While I am clearly a bit biased, I’ve always believed that beer can pair better with food than wine. That belief mostly stems from my limited knowledge of wine compared to the amount of time that I’ve spent studying beer. Nevertheless, I was very excited to not only attend a wine pairing dinner, but a wine and beer pairing dinner. This allows for a great opportunity to compare differences in how both wine and beer can pair with food.
Last week miX Restaurant, located at the the top of the Mandalay Bay hotel, hosted a dinner with both Firestone Walker Brewing Company and Herman Story Wines. Russell From, owner and winemaker for Herman Story, was present. Russell, along with Mandalay Bay’s Director of Wine, Harley Carbery, represented Team Wine. Team Beer was represented by Matt Brynildson, brewmaster for Firestone Walker, and Mandalay Bay’s Director of Food and Beverage, Sarah Johnson. (more…)
“Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me. It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt.”
—Ishmael; Moby Dick
Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione, being the literary nerd that he is, worked with a Delaware clam harvester to recreate the clam chowder found in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Calagione took some liberties with the recipe, and assumed that Melville left out IPA when writing up the recipe. Thus, Dogfish Head’s Hard Tack Chowder was born; made with 60 Minute IPA! I procured a can of said chowder (“chowdah” for those of you in the northeast) and went to work following the simple directions on label.
You would have to be living under a rock to not see the impact that ciders are making on the beverage industry. Angry Orchard from Sam Adams is currently dominating the market with both Anheuser Busch and MillerCoors adding additional cider brands to their already existing labels. Sadly, these ciders do not do the style justice. That’s what we have Tieton Cider Works for.
I’ve had a few of Tieton’s ciders, and while I found them all to be very enjoyable, and extremely food friendly, I am immensely drawn to one particular cider of theirs.
Last night I visited the top floor of the Trump Tower for a special event featuring the Tenaya Creek Brewery. The past couple weeks they have been working with James Watt and Martin Dickie, co-founders of Scotland based Brew Dog, brewing a collaboration beer celebrating Las Vegas; and it was time for the big reveal.
Brew Dog is most well known for some of their outlandish beers. The End of History is a 55% alcohol beer in which the bottles were shoved in the mouths of taxidermy squirrels. They’ve also fermented a beer at the bottom of the ocean, and most recently released a protest beer named Hello, My Name is Vladimir.
They also have their own TV show, aptly named Brew Dogs. The show features the co-founders as they travel around the US, brewing beers that are meant to represent the given city that they are visiting. Of course, these are no ordinary beers that are brewed. A San Francisco a beer was brewed using fog, a Colorado beer was made using the power of the sun, and a highly caffeinated beer was brewed on top of a ferry in Seattle. The show also features a brewery local to the city to assist with the creation of the beer. They are currently filming season 2, with Las Vegas and Tenaya Creek being chosen to participate.
I’m not sure what I personally would have chosen as ingredients in a beer meant to represent Las Vegas. Anthony Gibson, head brewer for Tenaya Creek, and the Scottish duo chose to go big. Really big. They brewed the most expensive beer in the world, in the most Las Vegas way possible.
Oskar Blues is finally available in Las Vegas. If you are unaware of who Oskar Blues is, here’s what you need to know:
1. Colorado based craft brewery famous for being the first to fully embrace cans for the packaging of their beer.
2. They make outstanding beers.
Now that we have cleared that up, let me say that every Oskar Blues beer that I’ve had has been phenomenal; though admittedly, I haven’t had too many. Ten Fidy, Old Chub, and Deviant Dales come to mind. So, I went ahead and decided to try something new. Being as I’ve been in a bit of a lager mood lately, I opted for a can of Mama’s Little Yella Pils. (more…)
Somewhere near the end of 2013, New Belgium released details of what was going to be their newest year round beer: Snapshot Wheat. This beer was to be a blend of both a traditionally fermented wheat beer, and one fermented with the souring bacteria lactobacillus. Being a fan of the Berliner Weiss style made me excited to try this beer; with the assumption that it would be similar to that style of beer.
Here we are. We’ve reached the final installment in this series of Emily and Melissa drinking beer. Along with Danny, they’ve had barley wine, mead, gueuze, and kriek. Off camera there has also been excessive wine drinking, and some shots of tequila; which leads us to where we are today. The beer is Sierra Nevada and Russian River’s collaboration; BRUX. Next time you see Danny, be sure to give him a hi-five for putting up with Emily and Melissa, and managing not to physically attack either one…