Cooking with Beer: Aged Gouda and Doppelbock Fondue

Not long ago I went on one of the more stellar culinary journeys of my life. Mortadella and bowls of tagliatelle di ragù in Bologna. Mounds of culatello and Parmigiano Reggiano in Parma. Vitello tonnato and carne cruda all’Albese in Alba. Every kind of snail dish imaginable in Cherasco, home of the Cherasco Worldwide Institute of Snail Breeding. (Bet you didn’t know there was one).

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Snoqualmie Falls Brewing “Bunghole”: The Greatest Brown You Never Heard Of

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Good Lord, the sad Brown Ale…for years, now, I’ve tasted Browns that seemed to be made as an afterthought; something the brewery decided to do mostly because they had run through the entire British Ale canon and said, “Oops, we forgot to make a Brown!” The Brown Ale, that delightful little roadside attraction between the Pale and ESB and Porter/Stout Territory, used to be something that was made with as much care as any IPA or Stout or Sour. Breweries took pride in their Browns. Rogue’s “Hazelnut Brown”, Lost Coast’s “Downtown Brown”, Big Sky “Moose Drool”, Bell’s “Best Brown”, Duck Rabbit Brown Ale, even Dogfish’s flamboyant “Palo Santo Marron”, all made a splash when they were introduced and those – along with the best of the lot, Cigar City’s epic “Maduro” core ale and its daring variations – should have pointed the way for a logical continuation of what was shaping up as a lasting evolution of the style, but then…Nothing Happened.

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Deschutes “Jubelale”: An Autumn Revelry, Bitches

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I’ve been drinking Jubelale ever since the second edition of it was released, back in the vacuous 1990s, and it was then and remains still the beer that I would choose about 99 times out of 100 when I just want to enjoy the sensual pleasure of consuming a perfect beer idea, perfectly made. And that one time out of that 100? That’s usually a time when I can’t get Jubelale because, defying all logic and reason, Deschutes Brewing sniffily insists on not making Jubelale year-round. (the lazy bastards) I’ve amassed cases of Jubel and nursed them along until summer, many times; even into September, in 2010. Yeah, yeah, HopHead fanatics will cringe at that and whimper than my hops had receded(!), but I Do Not Care. 97% of perfection is closer than anybody else is coming.

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Resuming The Pour Fool: An Aggravated RANT

Just yesterday, I had a very unpleasant back ‘n’ forth with a small brewery (which shall, of course, remain nameless) in the Western part of the US. I had planned to visit the brewery next week and then saw a post from them on Facebook.

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The Setting Sun: Five of Vienna’s Best Spots for a Late Summer Beer

A colleague of mine at the Wien Museum (Vienna’s city history museum) asked me over lunch today about some of my favourite places to have a beer in Vienna. It was a fitting question. He had recently participated in a learn-to-brew day at Brauwerk and has kindled an interest in beers beyond his favourite styles. It was also a timely question. Today was my last day at the Wien Museum. Two years in this fine city, and five days left.

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The Miir Growler: Miir-ly Exceptional

In 2006, a young trendy and self-described class clown named Brian Papé was taking some ski photos at Washington’s Steven’s Pass when, while jockeying for a better sight line, he fell and cracked his thigh, HARD, on an old-growth pine. It shattered his femur and shattered femurs often throw splinters that can sever the femoral artery…which kills you fast.

Brian lay there and had a thought. It resonated with me, reading his website, because I have been there at Death’s Door, too, and I had the same thoughts. Let’s all pray that you go through your entire life not knowing what this is all about. Believe me, it’s a club you do not want to join. Here are Brian’s own words about it, and they moved me in the same way my own thoughts do…
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The Hazy Beer Thang: Cloudy, with a Chance of Sour

FACT:  Hazy beers have been made for over two decades. They were not even uncommon.

FACT:  Hazy beers are undissolved solids in suspension. It’s science, not magic or elevated craft beer alchemy.

FACT:  Undissolved solids in liqud suspension ALWAYS precipitate out. ALWAYS. Why? See second fact.

FACT:  The NEIPA is a fad. It will undoubtedly have some legs because some – not anywhere near all – beers made in that style are absolutely delightful. But it IS a fad and will pass, probably soon. That’s not even a criticism of it. Extreme IPAs were a fad. Ditto for pumpkin ales. And the Riedel beer glass. And the Gose craze is one now. “Fad” is not a pejorative term. It just says that this popularity, which is certainly warranted, has a shelf life. Which it does. 

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Deschutes Black Butte XXIX: Black Beauty, The Sequel


Deschutes Brewery’s first beer was Black Butte Porter.

Most breweries come out the chute with something a bit less menacing, more crowd-pleasin’. But Deschutes, from Day One, held their company’s slogan, “Bravely Done”, in a octopus-like grip and have operated off that ideal ever since. They arguably have the country’s greatest American-style Imperial Stout – the immortal “The Abyss” – and they tinker with it constantly, gleefully, like a bunch of tweener kids who just found an erector set in the attic. They experiment annually on two of their primary IPAs, “Hop Trip” and “Fresh Squeezed”. They found a barrel of their absolute iconic Winter ale, “Jubelale”, half buried in a snowdrift, after some would-be thieves broke into the brewery and drastically under-estimated the weight of a full 15.1 gallon steel cask, and turned that little disaster into a series of Jubel ice-ale releases, with a crazily high octane version of Jubelale that tastes like Jubelale, only waaaaaay Moreso.

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Fort George, Reuben’s, and Great Notion: The Nation’s Best IPA?

There are breweries out there, in that ever-expanding ocean that is American Indie Brewing, that are quite content to make a core of maybe eight or ten – sometimes even fewer! – beers and call it good. And if those six, eight, fourteen beers are good enough and their clientele is rut-inclined and undemanding, those producers can survive and even prosper.

But some, Thank God(!), are never satisfied and it’s in that stratum that we find the great breweries and the truly great beers.

Fort George Brewing of Astoria, Oregon, is very much in that school of Never Satisfied and it’s what made me a fan in the first place and what allows me to stay interested in and a devoted purchaser of their beers to this day…

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Parducci: A Mendocino Reinvention

When makers of beer and wine manage to stick around for decades and remain curious and self-critical and keep trying…they get better – sometimes a LOT better.

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More and more, lately, I seem to be faced with reminding people of producers whose names have become submerged a bit in that vast sea of the New and Buzz-worthy – those breweries and wineries that you probably liked at one time but trampled a bit in your understandable rush to try and explore new things. That’s not a criticism. I do it, too. Everybody does it. What’s new is always more interesting than what’s been done, seen, tasted, experienced before. That’s human nature but human nature also dictates, as time passes, that we read a name online or in a magazine or on TV that prompts a little spark to crackle inside our synapses, causing us to mutter, “Oh, yeah…”

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