Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Move over, Highlights for Children

You'd think, what with the 10 million magazines devoted to truck racing, ferret raising, and the breaking news in the intense world of cheese, that there'd be more than two options (other than going online and reading it from friendly folks like myself) on the rack for us brewers and beer aficionados.
Well now it looks like we'll finally have two new options besides the venerable Zymurgy starting in the next couple months. Hopefully coming soon to a pediatrician's office near you, Draft magazine says they're targeting an audience of "both casual beer drinkers and serious enthusiasts", which is great, since I'm both of those things, depending on the time of day. I worry, though, that they're going to have much luck convincing casual beer drinkers to subscribe to a whole magazine about it, much in the way that as a casual tea drinker might worry they're not "enthusiastic" enough to warrant a subscription to this. Unlike the viciously anti-blog Beer Advocate folks, they also have a companion blog to complement the paper version.
Speaking of Beer Advocate, their print monthly publication is due out at the same time. While I worry that they might run out of ways to write breathlessly about Westvleteren, I'm hoping that my repeat requests to become a contributing writer could help spice things up a bit.
That goes for you folks over at Draft, too. I'm sitting here with a bottle of Redemption just waiting for you to call on my insight and wit to pad those pages of yours.

[jazz hands]Call me.[/jazz hands]


Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ballyhoos of bikes and beer and fatness

When the kids are out of school, and people care less about when I show up for work and how smelly I might be when I get there, I take the slow route and ride my fat tire bike up the road like a 1950's paperboy on 'ludes. It's a slow and steady ride the way I take it, and it's not unusual for me to imagine hearing the quavering voice of Devendra in my head while I snake up into the buckle of Sleepy Hollow. "Fat tire" has begun to mean to me an exploratory, unhurried way of things, journeys during which I try to gather the answers for most of the day's questions before I arrive to encounter them. In the same way that I like to believe Jeff Lebesch came up with his amber ale recipe while riding a similar bike (albeit with fancy lantern and bell) slowly across the easy, ambling roads of Belgium, I like to believe the zen-like state helps me compose from thin air, like this ultra-reduced partial mash brown ale recipe I wrote up for Chris the other day.

Which leads me to this weekend. Both New Belgium's annual Tour de Fat in Golden Gate Park and the second annual Fairfax Fat Tire Festival (of no obvious relation) are happening on Saturday, and it's more than possible to travel from one to the other via your favorite 2-wheeled transport. Of course, as it's supposed to be in the low 90's on Saturday, this might be a tour best enjoyed in the luxury of an air conditioned vehicle (with a designated driver, of course). I'll be there, just look for the guy in the yellow Tour t-shirt with the fat tire around his belly.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

And seven years before my birth...

... my father decided to stop drinking water. I carry on in his wise tradition. Prost!


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Irony defined

How could I not post a link to this story about Peter Coors getting his license revoked following a DUI? Tell me, how could I not?


The brewing of the nuns, pt. 1

By this point, anyone who's read my posts or been in any way influenced by the Belgian tourism board knows that monks make beer. How they got started in making beer, what kinds of beer they make, where monks still make beer, and the gradual assimilation of the cloistered brewery within the secular brewing world has all been duly covered. But the question remains: whither brewing nuns?
Historically, it's a tough one, as anyone who has studied the arts and crafts knows that any early successes within the sacred confines of the Church were attributed to neither men nor women, but to God (a neat trick which makes identifying the composers of early music complicated at best, but still we have our Hildegard). Whereas the story of northbound Italian monks from the city of Paula settling into southern Germany and producing a rich, life-giving beer to aid in times of ritual fasting is legendary, you'd be hard pressed to find a similar tale of say, a cloister of French nuns holing up in the Ardennes and whipping up heavenly [you knew that adjective would show up, right?] kegs of black saison.
And I've have to believe it exists. From my experience in working in a school run by the Dominican sisterhood, I would be surprised to find that a society founded in part by a love of nature and the outdoors, tenets of providing food and shelter to whomever needed it, and a respect and embracing acceptance of earthly riches as a reflection of the divine would not, at some point, make beer. So the search begins. To start, a Tom Wait-ish quote from my first google search result:
one hundred dollars in an old nun’s hand
dusty bottle of beer


Monday, July 03, 2006

Summit it up

You can almost read your future
in the resinous hop-oil haze.

There seems to be a consensus view on Summit hops, one of the newer varieties of high-alpha humulus lupus to hit the American craft brewing scene, and one that the folks over at Drake's Brewing in San Leandro aim to explore more thoroughly, along with the help of fifteen of their closest brewing friends. And while we probably won't be making it down for the July 8, "one hop sixteen ways" tasting, we did get to take one specimen for a drive around the park (literally) when we took a keg of Iron Springs' Bay Area Summit Ale to a typically sub-arctic 4th of July hullaballoo in Golden Gate Park yesterday. Whereas the rest of the country looks for the lightest and most easily thirst-quenching ales for a mid-summer celebration such as Independence Day, we here in San Francisco seek out something strong, rich, and warming, to stave off the frost hidden in the folds of the summer sea's ferocious foggy winds. Happily, this beer proved to be a welcome accompaniment to a wonderfully typical July bbq.

San Francisco's world-famous
July 4th fireworks display

It being the first such event in years where we had no keg of our own with which to supply the thirsty crowds (I know, I'm as shocked as you!), we were lucky enough to be able to grab said keg o' B.A. Summit on the way into the city, which also offered up an opportunity to preview next weekend's tasting experience. Against such challenging pairings as cheesy elk sausage, forever-and-a-day-marinated chipotle pork tenderloin, and leek and veal weisswurst, this bold, hop-driven E.S.B.I.P.A. (Extra Special Bitter India Pale Ale) held its own, the bracing bitterness cutting cleanly through the smoke to refresh the palate with a wickedly piney, citrusey finish. [Someone, I won't say who, remarked on the "herbal" qualities of the Summit hop aroma. So yes, you could fairly enough add "fat bud" to that list.]

Oh, the secrets within!

Many thanks to Mr. Altman (not to be confused with the guy who wrote the lyrics to the theme song from M*A*S*H)for making this available for our preview, and to a fine standing at next week's Summit Summit. Stop by the pub soon to find this on tap as well as his new Czechered Past (Bounced Czech? Czech's In The Mail? Lemme Czech?) Pilsner, also on draught, maybe more appropriate for the Fairfax version of summer than the one down by the water.