My Craft Beer “Awakening”…

Reflecting on my new career and the year ahead prompted me to go back to my early blog posts.  I found this one in 2009 and giggled.  If you had asked me in 2009 if I could see myself working in the Craft Beer Industry my response would likely have been “I wish!”  Yet here it is the eve of 2013 and starting next week I will be doing just that and working for Stone Brewing Co. no less.  WOW! If you have time read the post below, please do so and you will see the correlation.  I moved to San Diego in 2003. My beer education began by happenstance and Stone Brewing was a huge part of my education.  Of all the many things I am thankful for in my life, this ranks very high…

Happy New Year – May it be filled with great beer, sustainable food and glorious friends!

TheArtofBeer
xoxo

Grapes To Grain – My transformation from wine snob to craft beer lover…(September 2009)

A friend asked recently when I had converted from a wine snob to a beer geek.  My tweets about my parallel universe as a “beerophile” were posting to my Facebook page and she was not the first person to comment on my transformation.  After pondering the question, I decided to write a little about my journey.

I started drinking wine in my mid-twenties when I moved to California.  I truly enjoyed the seemingly endless options of fabulous wine available and as my taste developed so did my passion for wine.  My palate evolved over the years and I found I was more prone to fine wine than basic grocery store selections.  My investment in my habit grew.  I loved wine and was enthralled with the complexities of appearance, the nose, the feel and the taste associated with the many types, styles and brands.  Wine and of course, the food that compliments it, was a huge part of my social life as the years passed.   I loved sharing my wine finds with good friends over dinner at both my home and restaurants.  I shudder at the thought of the money I have spent over the years…

While I had always enjoyed beer, I honestly never thought much about what I was drinking.  I preferred to drink micro-brewed beer, but was not really conscious of the decisions I made.    I just knew that I didn’t care for Coors, Bud or any other watery beer on the market.  There was no real passion in my beer selections and I rarely took the time to think about the ingredients going into the beer, much less the business and political implications of my choices.  Never had I pondered which beers would best pair with an artisan cheese platter I had assembled for a cocktail party nor had I contemplated a social dinner offering different beer choices with the course I would prepare.

That is until I moved to San Diego in 2003…  I had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a young man who founded a craft brewing business in San Diego.  A neighbor in my building, GK brought his own beer selections to a party at my loft and even brought his own glassware.  I was in no way, shape or form offended by his apparent beer snobbery.  On the contrary, I was intrigued by his passion.  I recognized there was a lot I could learn from this incredible entrepreneur.   Many of my new neighbors in Park Loft were also  craft beer fans.  With Greg as a generous anchor, there was never a social event in the building (and boy did we have a lot of them!) that didn’t include several of the many choices of beer brewed by Stone.   There were many group outings to local craft beer mecca’s like O’Brien’s, The Local, Hamilton’s, and The Whistle Stop.  This was the beginning of my craft beer education.

August Schell Brewing – The Meaning of Craft & Tradition

DSC_0287

This post is related to the recent controversy surrounding the “Definition of Craft Brewing” as defined by the Brewer’s Association as it relates to August Schell Brewing.  People are pretty steamed about the publishing of a [for lack of a better term] “Black List” of non-craft breweries in the US.   I am saddened by the whole mess.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
George Orwell, Animal Farm

It’s 1860 and you want to start a brewery in the United States.  How easy do you think that was?  Probably not very…  I can’t even fathom what life must have been like in those days much less how hard it must have been to build a brewery.  Yet August Schell did just that.  Even more amazing is that Schell’s Brewing is still alive and brewing 152 years later and this timeline includes some pretty trying times.

Thanks to friend and fellow beer lover, Brett Glenna, I finally got an opportunity to visit New Ulm, Minnesota in October for a brewery tour and a slice of Schell history.  To say it changed my perspective on brewing traditions would be an understatement.

DSC_0177

Brett Glenna & David Berg

Dave Berg [@schellbrewer] has been brewing at Schell since 2006.  He is walking encyclopedia of the history of the brewery and to say the least, he is intensely passionate about the beer he brews and about the brewery.  We were there during Oktoberfest and there were hundreds of adoring fans lined up waiting for the brewery tours but Brett & I got VIP treatment from Dave.  August Schell started the brewery in 1860 and times were pretty sketchy in that area.  The brewery was one of the only buildings in town that was not burned to the ground during the famous “Sioux Uprising” aka  the “Dakota Conflict” and all because of the kindness of the Schell family toward the Sioux people.  There were 1900 breweries before Prohibition began in 1919 and Schell’s Brewing Co.  was one of only 600 that remained when it was repealed 14 years later.  They survived by brewing soda and non-alcoholic beer but rumor has it their was a little moonshine action as well.  They almost lost their license for allowing a batch of beer to go out at .75 % ABV when .50 was all that was allowed by law.  Hard to fathom in this day and age.  Go to the Schell website and follow the timeline to learn in detail about these things.  It’s fascinating to read.

http://www.schellsbrewery.com/home.php

In 1885 August Schell built the mansion that exists on the property today for $5k which was no doubt a huge sum of money at the time.  Not long after that he spent $25k importing the copper kettle you see below.  Talk about having your priorities straight!  Clearly August was passionate about brewing beer from the very beginning and I would say this brewery has managed to keep that passion alive in the business over all 152 years of its existence.

DSC_0183

The Marti family was involved early on in the Schell brewing tradition when George Marti married one of the Schell daughters.  The Marti family carries on the Schell tradition to this very day.  You can find the well-written response to the BA list from Jace Marti in the link at the  bottom of this post.  One of my very favorite stories told by Dave IMG_5995Berg during my visit to New Ulm was about the tiny, wee tap room in the brewery where the locals could go to drink beer and play cards.  The room was very small and located at the back of the cave in the brewery.  Warren Marti had his office directly above the “tasting” room.  When the boys got too rowdy,  which was often the case, Warren would simply turn off the tap from a shut-off valve in his office, signaling the night was over!   There was an “open ticket” program that started in the brewery after prohibition and lasted into the 80′s.  When locals came to the brewery to pickup beer, it was added to a tab which I think was settled up at the end of the month.  Sounds pretty dangerous to this beer girl.   I would probably have to turn over my entire paycheck every month!  Another great story that really touched my heart relates to business survival.  In the 70′s, Schell was struggling to make it’s payroll and times were very tough.  There was a 100 year old, extremely rare black walnut tree on the property that had been imported from Europe and it was worth a considerable amount of money.  The tree was sold to make payroll for the employees of the brewery.  That speaks volumes to the integrity of the Marti family.  There were no government bail outs in those days — imagine that!

beer_pilsI am not ashamed to say that I appreciate a finely crafted lager and Schell’s Pils tops my list.  Anyone that says this beer is not well made is woefully lacking in both taste and beer knowledge in my humble opinion.  There is much controversy surrounding the use of adjuncts in beer right now, but as is the case with Schell and many other reputable independent breweries, the use of adjuncts have their place in the brewing process.  Schell has been brewing beer styles that have weathered 150 years of history.  How dare anyone call them out for using local corn when it is clear the ingredient has been a part of their recipe since the very beginning.  This is not a macro-brewed beer using adjuncts to cheapen and lighten the product.  We know full well that adjuncts are used discreetly to enhance flavor in a myriad of “craft” beers and it is hypocritical to point out adjunct use for this very purpose at some breweries and not others.  Schell’s Pils has won many awards, including medals from the prestigious Great American Beer Festival and you can read a quote below from a craft beer legend that has likely turned in his grave over the publishing of this list.

” One of the best American examples of the Pilsner style.”
—The late Michael Jackson, world-renowned beer aficionado and writer.

DSC_0240August Schell Brewing Company has contract brewed for many well known “craft” brands including Schafly and 3 Floyds over the years.  Schell brews with pride and they stand by their product.  We should not marginalize their place in the world of craft beer based on loosely worded and frequently edited definitions of “craft” that seem to serve some type of agenda.  There are many breweries not on this list that use adjuncts with much less transparency in their beers.  Naming them serves no purpose but I will say that many of these beers are great tasting, well made and well respected.

At the end of the day, we decide which beers we spend our hard earned dollars on.  If I lived in a state that sold Schell beers, suffice it to say I would buy them.  If you have an opportunity to visit New Ulm, Minnesota in the future, by all means plan a brewery tour at Schell’s Brewing Co.  Of all the places I have visited in my beer travels, the day I spent in New Ulm stands out as a favorite for many reasons.  I consider this brewery to be “craft” and I wouldn’t let any list tell me otherwise.    Smart people don’t need lists – I’m just saying!   It is my sincerest hope that you will do the same.

IMG_5991

http://beerpulse.com/2012/12/august-schell-brewing-to-ba-in-response-to-craft-vs-crafty-shame-on-you/

Thanks for listening…
Cheers!
TheArtofBeer
xoxo

PS – People in Minnesota rock!  Especially the Glenna family who graciously took me into their home for the weekend and treated me like family.  I also had the pleasure of sharing beers with Mr & Mrs @13Mikey [Their real names I swear!]  The state has many things to be proud of.  #thatisall

Cross Fit & TheArtofBeer!

While facing some health issues earlier this year, I decided to take better control of my health.  Genetics are something I cannot control but I realized there were a lot of things that I can control that would help my quality of life.  Since distance running is no longer a real option for me, I was looking for something that I could feel a similar passion toward.   I am not really sure how Cross Fit appeared on my radar, but it did.  I watched videos and researched Cross Fit gyms in my area.  I finally found one that struck a chord with me; the atmosphere intense but balanced with a sense of acceptance for newbie’s like me.  Cross Fit requires a significant financial and time commitment.  For whatever reason, it felt like the right thing to do.  I had to put my money where my mouth is and that is where my journey began.

Cross Fit is very difficult, painful and at times masochistic.  My first session left me deflated and full of self-doubt.  I could barely grasp the basics and my brain hurt trying to register all the components.  I felt awkward and uncoordinated.  What happened to the athlete in me?  What happened to the girl that could blast through an icy downhill course with no fear?  Didn’t I used to haul ass doing 30+ mph on my bike during road races?  What about all those years running 25-50 miles per week?  I felt like a whale in ballet slippers that first day…Try getting that vision out of your mind now!

I am not a quitter — I showed back up and faced the pain.  I grunted, huffed, puffed and suffered.  I hurt in places I did not even know existed.  On day three, I could barely get in and out of my car without wincing from the pain.  The lactic acid was pouring from every muscle in my body.  I was in the Hurt Locker.   When I showed up at my session I had tears in my eyes and I was honestly ready to admit defeat but my trainer recognized the pain.  He had seen it before and he knew what had to be done.  For the next hour we focused on using a foam roller to stretch out the major muscles.  It was hard but I started feeling better.  I realized that I could do this.  I just needed to stay focused on that fact.

I diligently log my workouts and my food intake.  I have to remind myself to stay focused and paying attention to proper form is critical to making healthy progress.  It’s the hardest thing I have ever done but I am in love! The more I hurt, the more determined I become.  The first two weeks were just BRUTAL, but now I am rolling into week four and I feel great.  Instead of beating myself up for what I can’t do, I stay firmly focused on celebrating my progress.  I am taking baby steps but I see progress with every session.

Bear Crawl

The first time I tried to do a backward bear crawl, I felt like the ballet-dancing whale, but now I can make it the length of the gym floor.  Do I execute this with grace and ease?  No Way!  It’s hard as hell but I feel invincible at the other side.   My biggest challenge is learning to do squats the right way.  My right knee is a mess but I am getting the hang of it quickly and the muscles supporting my knees are getting much stronger.    Week one I could barely do straight-arm sit ups – now I can do them with ease and I am ready to move up to more difficult abdominal work.  I am still doing girl push-ups but I can feel my arms getting stronger with each day that passes.  I am learning to jump rope.  I now know what dead lifts and bench presses are and I am learning to do them safely.  I grunt, groan and at times I roar!  I feel empowered and satisfied…How cool is that?

For the time being I am drinking very little alcohol.  I went four weeks completely without to break the habit.  I am a pretty moderate person but I did realize I was consuming some type of alcohol almost daily.  Even if it was just one beer, the amount of calories this added to my diet was really what made me realize I needed to cut back.  With my hectic work schedule, travel and age, it is hard enough to stay healthy.  Alcohol is not a bad thing but it is easy to get in a habit of drinking too much.  For now, I have stopped coming home from work and using a beer or a glass of wine as my reward after a hard day.  I am saving my alcohol consumption for social occasions right now.  Do I miss my beer and wine?  Yes I do – I love craft beer with every ounce of my being, but… I am sleeping better and my stress level is significantly reduced as a result of reduced alcohol consumption.   That is far more important to me.   I was taking anti-anxiety and depression meds to cope with the effects of menopause and some other serious health issues.  I stopped taking them by gradually reducing the frequency.  I am completely drug-free in just four weeks.  My feelings of hopelessness are subsiding and for the first time in over a year I feel as if I want to fight the illness that plagues me.

As I finish up this post I am looking forward to brunch and some good beer or wine with my good friend Laurie.  You may know her as @100Beers30Days.   Laurie and I share a passion for craft beer and for wine.   We get together on Sundays to explore the complexities of exceptional craft beer or fabulous wine and we talk about the journey that is called life.  Today I feel strong and determined.

I know that I can do this!

xoxo

The Art of Beer

Bear Republic – Racer 5 India Pale Ale

Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA is a staple beer in my home.  I like that it comes in 12 oz bottles.  I try to keep my beer consumption low on a weeknight so this is a perfect selection.  I don’t really like drinking beer from pint glasses.  My glass of choice is a tulip.  I like being able to hold the glass by the base.

Pours sunny tangerine, slightly hazy from suspended yeast, with medium carbonation and fine, off white head that dissipates fairly quickly.  Tiny bubbles continue to rise to the surface.  Nice lacing on the glass.  I get tropical and citrus notes on the nose with some subtle pine and sweet maltiness in the background. I love the way Racer 5 smells!  Racer 5 is 7% ABV and is beautifully hopped with Chinook, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial.

Citrus and floral up front on the taste but not overpowering and bitter. I also get a little pineapple.  The finish is a little malty but still has the hoppy bitterness I love.  Admittedly I am a hop head but I do not find Racer 5 to be a huge hop bomb.  There is a nice balance to this beer that makes it incredibly easy to drink.  Just remember that it is 7% — It does not taste like it so it can sneak up on you.

Bear Republic Brewing Company is a true family owned and operated brewery in Healdsburg, California.  The Norgrove family are just plain, good people with two generations at the helm and a third that, I suspect, will be active as soon as they are of age!  Their barrel-aged program is off the hook so if you ever have an opportunity to try something from it, jump at the chance.  They are very limited in availability so mostly only accessible in Northern CA at the brewery and special events.  I am hoping I luck into one or two this coming week when I am up there.  You can check them out at the website link below.

http://www.bearrepublic.com/ourbeers.php

http://www.bearrepublic.com/home.php

If you find yourself in Sonoma County be sure to visit Bear Republic in Healdsburg.

Cheers to Great Beer!

TheArtofBeer
xoxo

PrepKitchen – The Latest Hot Spot in Little Italy

My lucky star was shining above me tonight when I parked my car on India Street directly in front of the new PREPKITCHEN location in Little Italy. I left work early to make the trek home from my office in Irvine and my agenda was picking up dinner to bring home. When I got out of the car I noticed all signs of construction were gone at the highly anticipated location and I stopped to look at the menu posted in the window. A really nice guy appeared at the door and asked if I wanted to come in and have a drink while they tested out their service. Why yes thank you…that sounds perfect!

I walked up the stairs and was gobsmacked when I saw the space! The transformation from the bizarro water boutique to this absolutely stunning restaurant and lounge is incredible. Prepkitchen is the latest addition to the very popular Whisknladle Hospitality creation’s of Ryan Johnston and Arturo Kassel. These guys clearly have a formula for success. Reclaimed wood, eclectic details and fantastic lighting make for a warm and inviting space. I had no clue this place was so big based on appearance from the street but the architect really did a good job creating division so that it feels cozy in each of the defined areas.

The bar is stocked with great craft spirits. My heart fluttered when I spotted the Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve and the Family Reserve Rye! Holy Impressive Bourbon Selection Batman! The craft beer selection is also notable. They actually represent a diverse style range which encourages experimenting with food pairings. I love that they have Rodenbach on tap and I am hopeful that Prepkitchen Little Italy will consider some innovative “Craft Beer Cocktails” as an addition to the very interesting list of Craft Cocktails and Wine. The prices are, in my opinion, par for the high quality of the ingredients. Their concept is definitely Farm-to-Table and this definitely appeals to the ethical foodie in me. The staff was attentive, friendly and best of all — void of hipster attitude! Please don’t get me wrong — there are times when I enjoy a hipster vibe, but really…I like people who are nice and that take a few moments to engage in conversation. My server behind the bar, John, was awesome. His knowledge of the product was exceptional. It’s hard to believe they had just opened. He made mention of the fact that several people there came from PF Chang’s. This is impressive. Paul Fleming wrote the book on consistent, superior service and I have always had respect for the PF Chang’s culture.

I ordered the Bone Marrow appetizer and a Warm White Bean & Arugula Salad. My cocktail choice was a Manhattan made with Basil Hayden’s Small Batch Bourbon and Antica Formula Vermouth. Wow, wow and WOW! The Bone Marrow was cooked to buttery perfection; topped with red onion, parsley, lemon and served with what I would describe as a ranch-style toast. The Pesto-Tossed White Beans and Arugula were topped with shaved-Parmigiano-Reggiano and the combination was scrumptious. I was totally checking out what other people ordered and everything looked delicious. I have a feeling it will take many future visits to make it through the menu which incidentally, will change daily based on available, seasonal, local ingredients. Prepkitchen sources produce from Suzie’s Farm (My CSA Provider) and several other local farms. This is another great notch in San Diego’s already stellar belt Slow Food restaurants.

Warm White Bean Arugula Salad

Bone Marrow

The official opening is Monday, January 30th. I highly recommend you hustle over to PREPKITCHEN and be one of the early fans! This is a much welcomed addition to my beloved and vibrant Little Italy neighborhood.

Cheers…TheArtofBeer
xoxo

You can check out their website for other locations and get an idea of their concept here ➙➙➙➙➙➙

http://whisknladle.com/about

Bourbon Inspires Greatness!

I struggle with cooking scallops at home.  I can never quite get them to sear the way they do in restaurants and I lament when I fail because they are so expensive. Water seems to pour from them despite the pan temp and this inhibits browning.    I bought some beautiful scallops on Saturday the Farmer’s Market from Poppa’s Fresh Fish.  I had never heard of fresh frozen “dry” scallops but my local seafood authority from Poppa’s Fresh Fish “splained” it to me.  Most scallops are injected with water before freezing to be transported.  This causes all the liquid to bleed when cooking.  The “dry” method does not use water; supposedly eliminating the runny liquid effect while cooking…

Saute 2 tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of garlic slowly over low heat.  Pat scallops dry to remove residual liquid and pepper to taste.  Add to pan when oil and garlic is hot and before allowing it to smoke.  Turn scallops when brown on first side  and squeeze juice of one half lemon.  Cook until second side is seared and scallops are at desired temp.  Remove scallops from pan and add about one shot of small batch bourbon( like Willett Small Pot Reserve) to pan to deglaze.  Pour resulting pan juices over scallops and ENJOY!

Bon Appetit!
TheArtofBeer
xoxo

Fresh Mussels!

I have eyed the Carlsbad Aqua Farm Fresh Mussels at my local Farmers Market, Little Italy Mercato, for months now.  I love mussels but I have never been brave enough to try making them at home.  I must have had a shot of courage in my coffee this morning because I decided to try it.  A bag full was only $8

http://carlsbadaquafarm.com/

The girls working at the farmer’s market were super friendly and helpful.  They showed me how to remove the little hairy bit that protrudes from the flat part of the shell; harder than it looked in their demo once home.  This was the most difficult part of the meal.  I solicited advice from the Twitter foodies for how to cook and this is what I came up with…

I sauteed garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil.  I added 2.5 cups of Viognier, the only white wine I had in the wine fridge, and then added the well rinsed mussels, covered the pan and gently shook the pan a few times to distribute the liquid well.  I removed the open mussels one by one and put them aside in a bowl and discarded the few that did not open properly.  Next I popped them all back in the liquid and reduced it until about half .  I added 4 tablespoons of cream, salt, Pepper and about a 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley; immediately removed pan from heat and transferred (carefully) the mussels into a bowl with liquid poured over them.

The result was delicious!  The only problem was that there was far more than I could finish.  My neighbors down the hall were happy about that :)

Cheers and don’t forget…Support Local Food and Products!

TheArtofBeer
xoxo

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro with TheArtofBeer 2015

Plans are taking shape for the mother of all Craft Beer Team Expeditions to summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2015!  My goal is to get 10 fellow craft beer evangelists on my team.  These people must be committed and dedicated.  I would like also like to make this a fundraiser for a Craft Beer charity.  Kili is not a big technical climb – it is a trek with the most technical part being the summit day.

This will be a professionally managed climb using a professional and respected operator like the one found in the link below.  The company must respect and properly compensate the native porters for their hard work and must also respect and protect the fragile ecosystem.  There are several companies that I have researched.  This is one possibility.

Climb Mount Kilimanjaro with The African Walking Company | the Best Guides on the Best Routes.

For budget purposes plan on about $3k for the actual expedition.  We will research airfare deals for best options but use $1k for a budget number.  It will be best to have a day or two there to get over jet lag before expedition begins.  It would also be great to spend a few days after to relax and explore Tanzania before returning home.  All told I will say that $5k is the budget figure to shoot for with savings goal.  If you start putting aside $40 per week you will save $5200 in 130 weeks – put it in a savings account and you will gain a bit of intrest as well.  You can also start your own fundraising efforts to help supplement your expenses.  Think of cheerleading camp fundraising in high school LOL!  Get your friends behind you so that you have support and a source of shame if you get lazy and quit!

While I am calling this TeamCraftBeerKiliClimb2015 — please know that during the climb, it is ill advised to drink alcohol because of altitude sickness and dehydration risk.  In other words, we are not doing this to drink beer every night.  We will however toast with a few sips of some highly “overrated” but highly loved CRAFT beer at the summit.  When we get back to lower ground, that’s when we will cut loose & CELEBRATE!!!!!

If you are truly interested in doing this then follow this blog and email me with you contact info and details about why you want to go.

More info soon my adventuresome friends!

Love and Respect

TheArtofBeer
xoxo

“The World is run by those who show up!”

Craft Beer in Oakland…

Oakland Amtrak Station     Jack London Square

Looking for a weekend getaway on the “left coast”?  I suggest Oakland.  That’s right — the place that often gets a bad rap for being thug central because of the Raider Nation.  The truth is that Oakland is a pretty cool place to visit if you like Craft Beer, Farm-to-Table Restaurants and an Urban Adventure.  If you live on the West Coast,  you can take Amtrak right into Jack London Square.  Otherwise fly into SFO or OAK and take BART (BayAreaRapidTransit) to the downtown Oakland City Center stop.  This post will highlight just a few places in Oakland that I frequent but there are several other great spots really close by.  The people here are friendly and fun.

I like to stay at the Waterfront Hotel at Jack London Square.  The Waterfront is part of the Joie de Vivre boutique, hotel chain which offers a different experience than the standard chain hotel and at affordable rates.

http://www.jdvhotels.com/
The Waterfront is a quirky little hotel right on the channel between Oakland and Alameda.  Some of the rooms have great views and there is a small, heated swimming pool and patio where you can chill out and soak up the sun on a nice day.  Miss Pearl’s Jam House is the on site restaurant that has a good selection of beer and a Slow Food approach to food.  Friend and Bison Brewing owner, Daniel DelGrande clued me into this place after my repeated gripes about the natty Courtyard Marriott in downtown Oakland.  Unlike the Courtyard, the Waterfront is clean, friendly and best of all; is just two blocks from Beer Revolution, my favorite place to enjoy beer in Oakland!

Beer Revolution is my kinda place.  Fraggle & Rebecca, the owners, are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. They have 47 rotating taps and they take pride in the fact that keep the lines meticulously clean.  Beer Rev has access to a lot of new releases and limited edition craft beers.  I savored a glass of Drake’s Brewing special barrel-aged  “Passionate Monkey” during a Tap Takeover event last year.  Last week, High Water Brewing (one of the newest breweries in the Bay Area)  “Aphotic Barrel Aged Baltic Porter” went on tap for the very first time and WOW was that a treat.  You get the picture…There are hundreds of bottles to choose from in the Beer Rev coolers as well.   It is not difficult to find something super special here and I always make it a point to ask the bartenders what the rare options are.  They do not serve food (yet) at Beer Rev but they do allow food from neighboring spots to be enjoyed on premise.  The Vegetarian spot on the corner is really good.  An expansion project is planned for Beer Rev later this year and it appears food will be part of it!

http://beer-revolution.com/
464 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 452-BEER (2337)

High Water Brewing
http://highwaterbrewing.com/highwater.php

I fell in love the very first time I had dinner with friend Dan from Bison and Rock Star Chick Brewer, Alex from Drake’s Brewing in nearby San Leandro.  Chop Bar features seasonal, local ingredients when possible and they serve up some good craft beer and cocktails!  They have some great small plates that are perfect for sharing and I recommend doing just that when you visit Chop Bar.  One of the best things about restaurants committed to Slow Food concepts is a constantly changing menu.  You will never get bored because there is always something new to try.  Fresh ingredients that are in season and sustainably grow taste better.  That’s a fact!
Chop Bar
247 4th St Ste 111
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 834-2467
http://www.oaklandchopbar.com/

Drake's Barrel House

Drake’s Brewing Company (same ownership as Jupiter & Triple Rock in Berkeley) is about 10 miles from Jack London Square in Oakland and well worth the trip.  I am guessing a cab ride is about $20 but it is completely possible to take BART to the San Leandro Station and walk 1.25 miles to the brewery.
Visit the Beer By Bart website for details:
http://beerbybart.com/why/drakes-brewery-and-barrel-house-san-leandro/
The Drake’s Barrel House opened last summer with 24 taps featuring the regular Drake’s line-up as well as seasonal choices and the incredible barrel-aged beers that they are now famous for.  You cannot get these special beers outside of the Bay Area “yet”, so this is your chance to see what all the buzz is about.  The Quaid’s Dream- Imperial Stout aged in Port Barrels with blackberries I sampled last week was brilliant but I must confess that I am still longing for another sample of Passionate Monkey!  Owners , John & Reid Martin, have the formula for success in brewing ventures as well as brew pubs.  Triple Rock & Jupiter are both Bay Area favorites within the Craft Beer Community.

It’s a bit hard to find Drake’s the first time. Look for the driveway to the right of Wal-Mart and the left of Sport’s Authority.  Drake’s is tucked back in the corner as you drive between the two buildings.
1933 Davis Street
San Leandro, CA 94577
(510) 568-BREW (2739)
http://drinkdrakes.com/
http://barrelhouse.drinkdrakes.com/?page_id=9

Here are the links for a few other places in Oakland that deserve some props:

The Trappist
25 Taps & 100 Specialty Bottles
460 8th Street
Oakland, California
94607
http://thetrappist.com/
(510)238-8900

Luka’s Tap Room & Lounge
16 Taps & Specialty Bottles
Excellent Mussels!
2221 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
(510)451-4677
http://lukasoakland.com/

Linden Street Brewery
95 Linden St
Oakland, CA
(510)251-8898
http://www.lindenbeer.com/

The Inn at Jack London Square is not a bad alternative

Do "NOT" stay at the Jack London Inn! Very Scary Place

Enjoy Oakland and let me know how you liked it!

Word…
TheArtofBeer
xoxo

Fresh Sea Urchin – Yes Please!

I make it a point to buy as much of my food as possible at my Local Farmer’s Market, the Little Italy Mercato.  Every Saturday from 9-1:30 on Date Street, from Kettner to Union, you’ll find some incredible local offerings.

http://www.littleitalysd.com/mercato/

Today I stopped off to sample fresh Sea Urchin at Poppa’s Fresh Fish, a regular at the Little Italy Mercato.  I appreciate their motto:

“If it we any fresher. you would be under water!”

True that!!!  Poppa’s has a killer selection of fresh fish that they source and prepare for sale at local farmer’s markets.  For the first hour at each market they have “Oyster Happy Hour” and that translates to yummy oysters, shucked on the spot for only $1.25 each.  I call them “Breakfast of Champions” and I am not the only one.  There is a cue on Saturday mornings to get them!

You can check out their website here>>> http://www.poppasfreshfish.com/
They have a listing of the local farmer’s markets you can find them at!

Now back to the Sea Urchin…

“we crack’em, we clean’em and you eat’em, right out of the shell!!!”

That’s what they say on the website and Holy Fresh Goodness they aren’t kidding!  For $9 you get the freshest Sea Urchin you will ever taste. I kid not people.  For those who are already fans at the sushi bar,  the taste and texture are familiar but the flavor is different because they are so fresh.  For the Sea Urchin Virgin, I recommend trying them this way.  The taste is salty on the palate at the beginning and then transitions to a beautiful buttery finish.  The texture of this fresh Sea Urchin is custard-like and it just melts in your mouth.

I think one of the best things about stopping at Poppa’s Fresh Fish is watching people stop to look at the Sea Urchin.  Many don’t know what it actually looks like when it is in the sea.  Some have never even heard of it. The looks on their faces are priceless!  Even better is seeing their surprise when they take their first taste and realize that it is absolutely delicious!

Some Sea Urchin Virgins!

If you live in San Diego and have a chance to visit the Little Italy Mercato, please stop by Poppa’s Fresh Fish. I encourage you to sample the Sea Urchin! It does not get any fresher than this…

Don’t forget to shop local when possible!

TheArtofBeer
xoxo

San Diego Craft Beer – Part Two – Walk, Trolley & Drink Beer in Downtown!

San Diego is a beautiful city with great, down-to-earth people and a Craft Beer Community that ranks in the Top 10 in the United States.  How many cities can you name where it is actually possible to walk from the airport to the action-packed, beer-centric, downtown area?  Not many and possibly none other is my guess.  There are over 500 tap handles with a 3 mile radius of my condo and that list probably expands to 1000 if you go to 10 miles.

I live in Little Italy, one of many fabulous little neighborhoods in the greater downtown area.  In Part One of this series, you learned about South Park, North Park & Normal Heights and the famous 30th Street Beer Corridor; all accessible via an inexpensive ride on MTS – San Diego’s Public Transit!  In Part Two I’ll suggest some great picks for a downtown San Diego Pub Crawl!  You can walk or you can hop on the San Diego Trolley.

The San Diego Trolley

You are looking at about a 3 mile walk to hit all of these locations but you can also ride the San Diego Trolley.  It runs smack dab through the middle of town.  Just like the Hot Deuce, you can buy a $5 ticket and ride all day.  It’s great fun and great people watching.  San Diego is a laid back town so no need to get all dressed up here!

I will touch on some of the places I know and love that are all within walking distance of my home in Little Italy.  You should definitely walk or ride the trolley to these places — parking can be a bear and if you are drinking more than one or two beers, you should not be driving anyway!  There are many other fantastic Craft Beer spots that I won’t have time to mention.  There are just too many to include them all and frankly, I have not had the time to check out all the new venues that have popped up in the past year.  You can check out the Tap Hunter App to see most of the locations right from your smart phone. It provides a map, the address, phone number and an amazingly accurate list of what each place has on tap.  You can also visit their website for locations at the link below.

http://sandiego.taphunter.com/location/

Little Italy welcomed two very positive Craft Beer additions in 2011; Bottlecraft and Under Belly.

Bottlecraft!

Bottlecraft, owned by Brain Jensen, opened in the summer and prompted a serious happy dance when I visited just after the opening.  The variety is stellar.  Staple beers as well as those that are hard to find like Cantillion and Nebraska BrewingHop God” fill the shelves.  Bottlecraft doesn’t just highlight great San Diego brews, they offer up the best available in California within the constraints of the good old, 3-Tier distribution system.  What makes Bottlecraft unique is a liquor license that allows opening and drinking the beer purchased. There are places to sit and be comfortable.  They also have a great choice of glassware, books, t-shirts and even Dog Biscuits because Bottlecraft is pup friendly!  This is always a category that I give bonus points for.  They have a great, rotating variety in the cooler section and they offer two innovative taster flights daily.  The people who work at Bottlecraft are not only beer-centric, they are friendly and fun.  They help beer-newbies find a beer that will ease them into our beloved Craft Beer world.   If you find a beer that you want to try and it’s not in the cooler — not-to-worry — you can get it chilled in about 15-20 minutes.  There is no food offered but there are tons of nearby options that you can pick-up and bring to share with friends.  I also like the people who come here to drink beer.  They are not beer snobs and they are not “all “hipsters. There are a few “fixies” outside but I have yet to see anyone display the “I’m way too cool for you” attitude.  The age range is diverse and the common thread involves the comfort of hanging out with friends enjoying good beer.  What’s not to like?  I guess the New York Times agrees with me because Bottlecraft was listed as a top pick for pick #14 San Diego in  the New York Times “45 Places to Go in 2012″

http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/travel/45-places-to-go-in-2012.html?pagewanted=2

Under Belly opened in October and Holy Hot Ramen Batman; they add a new dimension to the already superb food culture that defines urban life in San Diego.  Don’t eat here if you are not an experimental foodie that appreciates adventure.  The secret to good Ramen is in the broth and in my opinion, they have captured the essence and added a twist of creativity to the ingredients.  There are 24 local and beyond tap handles and a California wine selection.  Vegan choices are available along with a good range of appetizers like gyoza and pork buns.  There are some rules involving traffic here.  Order your food first and then find a spot to sit.  The space is a bit narrow to navigate through but it just makes it part of the adventure, right?   Under Belly is part of the same ownership as Neighborhood SD, Craft & Commerce, Noble Experiment and El Dorado; Consortium Holdings, owned by Arsalun Tafazoli and Nathan Stanton.

Craft & Commerce is less than 2 blocks from my house and I can get my Craft Cocktail  (Manhattan for this girl) and my Craft Beer Cocktail fix here.  “Up in Smoke” – Allagash Curieux, Islay Scotch, Fuji Apple and Lime – is an example of a Beer Cocktail and in 2010, this was the very 1st place I ever tried this now exploding, cocktail trend.   They have the most creative drinks and it is completely by design.  They opened in August of 2010 and were a success from the start.  The decor is Hipster Prohibition but the vibe is welcoming so don’t be put off by the hipster crowd.  They won’t bite!  Craft & Commerce has 12 rotating tap handles.  The food is decadent and fabulous.  The menu changes based on availability of produce in season.   The Salmon BLT is a favorite and there are days when I would sell my soul for the Bacon-Wrapped Dates!  They have some limited patio seating where dogs are welcome.

Neighborhood Tap Handles

Neighborhood opened in 2007 and is hands-down, still my favorite place in the San Diego downtown area for Craft Beer and Casual Dining.  They offer 27 craft beer taps and a notable rare bottle collection.  The food is local, sustainable and ethical; just the way I like it.  The Deviled-Eggs (only available at night) are superb.  I am also a huge fan of the “Street-Tacos” and the burger.  DO NOT come here if you put ketchup on your food.  It is not available and if that freaks you out, there are plenty burger joints nearby that serve high-fructose corn syrup.  If you appreciate the flavor of of quality, seasonal ingredients; you have found a great place.  I find the service here to be friendly and the staff is well versed on the beers that they serve.  Neighborhood also makes Craft Cocktails but only those of the whisky and bourbon variety.  For the key to an even greater Cocktail Experience – visit The Noble Experiment if you dare unlock the secret to entry…

http://nobleexperimentsd.com/

Best Damn Beer Shop is located in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego and the name is completely appropriate.  Located inside “Super Junior” market on 7th Avenue, you would NEVER guess how terrific the beer offering is by looking at the storefront.  Parking here is next to impossible so walk there and cab it home with you beer spoils if too big to carry home on foot.  Best Damn Beer has access to some pretty limited allocations and you can subscribe to their newsletter for updates on new releases.   There have been several events hosted by Best Damn Beer that feature hard-to-find Craft Beer tastings; some to help charities.  They recently added a home-brew supply section to the store so downtown home-brewers have a convenient place to pick up what they need to brew.  The owners plan evolve into more of a gourmet market over time but for now, be advised that the appearance outside does not reflect how terrific the beer offering is on the inside!  This family owned business is related to South Bay Drugs in Imperial Beach which is temporarily closed due to zoning issues but expected to resurface someplace fresh in 2012.

Monkey Paw Pub, the latest venture from Scot Blair, owner of Hamilton’s & Small Bar. They opened in August of 2011 offering 30 Tap Handles, 2 Cask Engines and a bottle list.  Sample one of the creative Craft Beer Cocktails and jump on the latest craze.  They feature 4-5 of the beers from Monkey Paw brewer, Derek Freese and it is clear there is a lot of great beers to come.  He is brewing some pretty amazing session beers like “Pineapple X-press” and “Thatcher in the Rye” at 5.2% and 4.5% ABV. Give a shout out to bartender Ashlee if she’s working.  This girl knows her beer and she does a great job making folks feel welcome.

Monkey Paw is in the part of downtown that I guess I would refer to as our “Skid Row”.  It may look a bit daunting as you walk around the area but please don’t be afraid.  Because of San Diego’s ideal climate, we do have a large number of homeless folks in the downtown area, even in Little Italy.  It’s just part of life in any city and it keeps my reality in check.   There are several homeless shelters and outreach programs in this area so the people tend to congregate near the places that offer some help.  A huge percentage of the people on the street have drug addictions.  Rest assure the people are, for the most part harmless.  I have walked safely through these neighborhoods for 9 years now.

Downtown Johnny Brown’s could be the biggest Craft Beer Sleeper in San Diego.  If you can find the place without someone directing you there; you excel in navigation!  DTJB’s is 3 blocks from my house and it’s tucked inside a courtyard at the Civic Center Plaza.  They have ample, pet-friendly patio seating and a great collection of beer pouring from 18 taps.  they also have some great bottle selections.  Check their website for special events and releases.  They have some pretty special kegs tucked away and you just never know when owner Todd will put one on tap.  The crowd here is eclectic because many are not all “here for the beer”.  They are located next to the theater/opera venue and many people go there to grab a bite to eat before a show.  But the local beer people know about this haven and it   Many a great bottle sharing event has taken place here and the staff is kicked backed and friendly.

There are scads of other good Craft Beer spots downtown but for brevity puposes, I picked the ones I know the best for now.  There are many you might pass along the way to those featured so keep your eyes open.  I have posted some more names below of places I must visit and highlight as I expand this series.

I hope you have the opportunity to visit these great Craft Beer establishments and be sure to give me a shout out with details of your adventure!

World Peace & Craft Beer!
TheArtofBear
XOXO

Bottlecraft
2161 India Street
(619) 487-9493
http://bottlecraftbeer.com/

Underbelly
750 W Fir St (at Kettner)
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-4626
http://www.godblessunderbelly.com/

Neighborhood
777 G Street
(619) 446-0002
http://neighborhoodsd.com/

Best Damn Beer
1036 7th Ave
(619) 232-6367
http://bestdamnbeers.com/beerlist/about/

South Bay Drugs
Announcing New Location & Name Soon
(619) 424-5164
http://sites.google.com/site/southbaydrugs/

Monkey Paw Pub
805 16th St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 358-9901
www.monkeypawbrewing.com

Downtown Johnny Brown’s
1220 Third Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-8414
www.downtownjohnnybrowns.com

Honorable Mentions:

The Tipsy Crow
770 5th Avenue
San Diego, Ca 92101
(619) 338-9300
www.thetipsycrow.com

The Hopping Pig
748 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 546-6424
www.thehoppingpig.com

Local Habit
3827 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
619-795-4770
www.mylocalhabit.com

TheArtofBeer and Life..2013

My Year in Review

TheArtofBeer

2013 kicked off with a new chapter in my career.  After a 2nd layoff in 4 years in my old industry, I decided to pursue something that I have passion for. ::Insert Legally Blond quote:: “Luckily” Stone Brewing Company took a chance on hiring this geeky beer girl and the rest is history.  It has not been an easy year for me.  Learning the beer industry is far more challenging on the inside than it appears from the outside looking in.  I have battle scars but I have also learned so much.  I have had respect for Stone Brewing Co from my very beginnings in San Diego in 2002.  Stone was the company that flipped me from a wine drinker to “TheArtofBeer” and that was no easy feat.  But wowser this industry is tough!  I cut my teeth on amazing craft beer because of Stone and I came to appreciate the heart and soul of the craft brewing industry.  I learned so much in 10 years and I developed friendships across the country because of this silly little blog and my life on Twitter.  How amazing is it that I ended up working in the industry?

Craft Brewing is not an easy row to hoe and I have respected just how challenging the path is from the very beginning.  Now that I have spent a year selling beer, I can honestly say that it is the hardest thing I have ever done.  Despite a conviction deeply set in the core of my being, I have had to face the reality that craft is still just a small blip on the screen that is the overall beer market.  The masses just haven’t caught on yet.  Since passion is something I have always had plenty of, even when selling mundane plumbing/hvac products , this became a very personal mission for me. Game on!

I am most thankful for the amazing wins I have been able to chalk up and I am thankful for some of the great chains that have been patient with me as I navigated my way through this very foreign industry .  I have made mistakes but hopefully I have learned from them.  I am also thankful for some of my Stone comrades that have helped me make it through some very challenging times.  My favorite motto learned “It’s Just Beer” has helped me through some rough days and every win I have made has meant the world to me.

Aside from World Peace, my wish for 2014 is that we are able to get more people to venture into the amazing world of craft beer.  As main stream retailers take a chance on bringing craft into their stores, I hope my fellow craft beer drinkers will remember to appreciate the fact that this is how we can expand our share from 8% to 20% and beyond in the coming years.  Don’t get caught up in beer snobbery and judging breweries for selling in more places than just our beloved Bottle Shops.  For every new consumer that passes by a corporate beer to pick up a Stone Mixed 12 pack or (insert any craft beer package) on the shelf, it’s a win for craft.  It paves the road for the tiny new craft breweries that open daily and gives them a path to success.  When we expand the base of craft beer drinkers, everyone wins.  The larger craft breweries are making it possible for new breweries to have a chance of succeeding.  Please remember that.

This year has not been without some personal hardship.   As I prepare to walk away from my home, the lesson learned is that home will always be where I make it.  Trust me when I say, this is the hardest thing I have ever gone through short of losing my parents, but… I will survive.  I also had another good health scare that left me minus some flesh but it’s a blessing that I was given the ability to make a difficult choice before it was too late.  My vanity has taken more of a beating but I feel good about the outcome.

Even my closest friends do not know that once again, I exposed my heart and once again I made a bad choice.  I guess I have resolved myself to having the worst taste in men EVER — but I blame myself for being a difficult person.  At the end of the day, I have to own my faults.  As much as I wish I could find love, I am beginning to find peace with being alone.  The holidays are always the hardest for me.  It has been so long since I have had family, I don’t remember what it even feels like.  But I do appreciate the friends that stand by me…no matter how difficult I tend to be.

I am thankful for so many good people in my life.  There are too many to name.  You know who you are and I appreciate each and every one of you.  Thank you for keeping me in your prayers and for putting up with me when I am being a royal pain in the ass.  Please forgive me if you are not in the photo montage  I did my best to capture as many people as possible but it was impossible to get everyone that matters.

My Year in Review

My Year in Review

Thanks for putting up with me…World Peace

xoxo

TheArtofBeer

Grace & The Art of Beer…

On the verge of yet another unwanted birthday, I find myself taking inventory of my life.  It’s not easy growing older, but practice makes perfect, right?  Walking home from my cross fit session at Invictus this morning my thoughts were of the word grace.  I have no clue as to why.  It is such a simple word on the surface but it holds so many meanings that are relative in my life now.  I looked it up when I got home and here are a few of the many definitions that struck a chord:

  • elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action:  Synonyms: attractiveness, charm, gracefulness, comeliness, ease, lissomeness, fluidity.
  • a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
  • favor or goodwill. Synonyms: kindness, kindliness, love, benignity; condescension.
  • moral strength: the grace to perform a duty.
  • manifestation of favor, especially by a superior  Synonyms: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness.

It is really hard to maintain grace, especially given the pressure of a hectic life.  But I realize it is a very important thing for me to work on.  With every year that passes I have to try harder to maintain it under pressure and goodness knows there are times when I just flat-out fail!  I make heaps of mistakes but thankfully most around me are of the forgiving nature; another thing I need to improve about myself.  It’s tough right now and I need to find the courage and inspiration necessary to forge ahead each day while working my hardest to maintain grace.

This may sound silly to some but I find this courage and inspiration each & every time I walk in the front door of CrossFit Invictus.  I am not the fastest, the strongest or the most skilled in the workouts; but the community at Invictus makes me feel strong and determined.  Coach Nichole in particular is my inspirational rock.  I am forever in awe of this amazing young woman.  Through her coaching, I am learning to celebrate my accomplishments, regardless of how small they may be.  She reigns as the “Queen of High Fives” and praise from her is in limitless supply.  Nichole personifies the definitions of grace and she serves as a constant reminder of it’s importance in my personal journey.

I am honored to share my time with the folks that attend classes there also.  If I had a dollar for every time someone encourages me as I struggle, I would be the richest girl in the world.  There must be something in the water at Invictus because honestly every person there, staff and members included, exudes these qualities.  I derive a great sense of pride from being a part of “The Sea of Green”.  I feel so much stronger when I walk out of there.  If I had limitless funds, I would give every person I know the gift of experiencing this community.  Walking through that door for the first time in April was the best thing that has happened to me in a very long time.

I turn 52 on September 15th and I feel better than I have in a long time.   I will be spending my birthday up in Oakland with some people that are special to me and you can bet that some delicious craft beer will be shared.   I look forward to yet another year filled with good health, friends, travel and happiness.  I am thankful for all that I have and I will not dwell on what I lack.  I will try harder to forgive, even when I hurt the most.  And oh yes…I will try my hardest to maintain grace.

xoxo
TheArtofBeer

Much Ado About Beer & Food

It’s easy to forget how lucky I am to live in such a great beer and food town.  Granted…San Diego is not famous [yet] for being a Gastro-Mecca; but honestly, this lovely city deserves honorable mention.

Alpine Nelson

I ventured out this afternoon to meetup with a lovely Twitter beer friend ( @gandalfcat ) at Hamilton’s Tavern in South Park.  On the Second Saturday of every moth, Hamilton’s “puts out a spread” of food and fantastic beers.  This event features a brewery — Alpine Beer Company in this case — and you can expect a tap selection of stellar beers from the featured brewery at this event.  Alpine is a “beer institution” in San Diego.  This impeccable brewery maintains a modest production so distribution of these finally crafted ales is extremely limited.  Known for “hop explosions”, Alpine brews with the #HopHead in mind.  I credit Alpine’s  Pure Hoppiness as my “first-love” in the hoppy beer arena.  I had my first sip at The Local on 4th Avenue and the rest is history.  Suffice it to say, I have never had a disappointing beer from this local gem.   Today was no exception…

It was hot and woefully sweaty in Hamilton’s this afternoon but honestly, it’s worth enduring the sauna!  This beer bar holds a very special place in my heart.  Good memories flood my mind as my eyes adjust to the darkness when I walk in the door.  There are no frills here but the vibe is solid.  The staff is beer savvy and friendly.  The prices are reasonable and the beer selection is world-class.  If you visit San Diego and you love craft beer; Hamilton’s is a must.

http://hamiltonstavern.com/

FACT: Hoppy beers make me hungry! Not sure there is any science to support this theory, but I believe hops stimulate my palate.

Alchemy San Diego

I find that I experience more intense flavor explosions from the food I eat when drinking hoppy beers.  I stopped off at Alchemy for some supper after leaving Hamilton’s this evening.  I am ashamed that I have not eaten there in quite some time and tonight I was reminded of how much I have been missing.  I have chosen to eat a fairly strict “Paleo” diet since my surgery in February.  It’s not always easy but I can say with all certainty that it is saving my life.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Paleo-Friendly selections on the menu at Alchemy.  I selected the Ceviche, white fish marinated in citrus juice with pasilla peppers, mango, red onion, cucumber & cilantro served with plantain chips for my starter.  Absolutely #DELISH!!!

Larb Goong

Next up the Larb Goong – Mexican white shrimp spiced up with Thai chili, lime and cilantro; served in bibb lettuce cups.  Holy #Paleo Heaven Batman!  I absolutely loved this dish!  I had to omit the peanuts but the flavor balance in this dish was excellent.  I can’t remember the last time I had something this flavor-packed.  I will definitely be trying to recreate this dish at home but the lesson learned today was one of remembering restaurants that support my food ethics.  Alchemy is the poster child for ethical eating and I plan to hold myself accountable to eating here on a more regular basis.

I would like to note that this dinner (more than filling) was $19.  I realize that not everyone can afford to eat out on a regular basis but for a splurge, this is good value for the money.

Ceviche at Alchemy San Diego

The brilliant thing about places like Alchemy is that they inspire people to be more creative in the kitchen.  You can bet that I will be trying to recreate the Larb Goong at home but that does not mean I won’t be going back to Alchemy again soon to experience more of Chef Ricardo Heredia’s brilliant creations.

http://alchemysandiego.com/

Our Purpose: “to serve food with meaning prepared by people who care”

If you are visiting San Diego, be sure to check out @Hamilons and @AlchemySD

Peace & Love

TheArtofBeer

Beer Research Call to Action!

I received a request from Anthony Simone (@erroneousrex) , a grad school student in New York that is doing research on Craft Beer Marketing.  He sent me a survey and asked that I respond to it.  You will find my answers below.  You may not agree with me—That’s okay with me.  If you have an opinion you should answer them and email (details below) your response back to him. Words I live by:

“The World is Run by Those Who Show Up!”

Do you believe it is important to use local ingredients in beer production and why/why not? –

I do not think it is completely feasible for all beer to be brewed with local ingredients but I really respect breweries that release specialty beers that do use seasonal, local ingredients.  I believe there are more and more craft breweries that are focused on utilizing local products.  Many breweries are growing their own hops now and some are and using local fruit.   Cascade Brewing makes some amazing barrel-aged sour beers using fruit from Oregon.  Logsdon is a co-op that is growing some of the ingredients they use.

I think you will find that many craft breweries promote the pairing of their beer with locally sourced food.  I would guess a large percentage of Craft Beer drinkers trend toward Farmer’s Markets, humanely raised meat and organic ingredients.  Breweries like Bison Brewing help people associate the source of ingredients to the food they eat and the beer they drink.

If you do believe it is important to use local ingredients there is an instance where they would be more expensive to acquire do you believe the ethical choice of “buying local” would trump the financial decision?

I can only speak for myself but I think there are many people that feel the way I do.  I will absolutely pay more to support local products.  I buy 80+% of my food from local sources.  With regard to beer, I support my local breweries but I am also a “beer traveler” that visits other great beer cities and brings home beer to share.  I support “craft” and appreciate well-made beer from all over the country.  I love to ship my local favorites to people in other places as well.

There are over 40 hop varieties in America alone not to mention multiple varieties of barley malts.  Do you believe the average drinker of even high-quality craft beers can actually tell the difference between these different varieties? Do you believe it is necessary or productive to mention esoteric ingredients in a craft beer’s marketing?

I do believe people with refined palates can differentiate the more prominent hop varietals.  It is no different that people with a strong palate for wine varietals.  I don’t think the average person can articulate what they taste without reference points made in beer descriptives (is this a word?), but the more they sample and identify with, the more they can ell the difference between the major varietals.  I think it is great when breweries call out specific ingredients because it teaches people to differentiate.  The wine industry has been doing this with grapes forever.  Beer is far more complex in my humble opinion.  A newbie can read a label and correlate the ingredients with what they taste.

There is a perception of elitism in craft/micro-brew beer marketing and culture. Do you believe this might have the negative effect of turning off potential craft beer newbie’s? Or would you even consider this a “negative” effect?

Absolutely not!  I think Craft Beer marketing actually encourages newbie’s because geeks, and socially awkward people are the poster children for Craft Beer. Look at Greg Koch from Stone Brewing.  He is a brilliant public speaker but he is not a social butterfly when in a one-on-one situation.  When he is on stage talking about his passion for beer – He lights up a room.  People can identify with his passion.  One of the beautiful things about craft beer is that it embraces the hipsters, geeks, brainiacs and yes, even the #pretty people.  Craft welcomes anyone that has an appreciation for the road less traveled.  Young and old come together to share an appreciation for craft.

I do believe the beer reviews and forums on Beer Advocate can intimidate people but truthfully, the few  “doucebags” that talk smack on BA are a source of entertainment for many people and there are heaps of great reviews to be found there as well.  I support anyone wanting to learn about craft beer and I will go out of my way to help people learn.  I am not alone in this thinking.  Craft Beer is an “equal opportunity” product.  It does not discriminate.  There is no wrong or right.  Your taste is exactly that…it’s your taste.  True craft beer lovers champion individual taste and they do not criticize people for having a different opinion.  How I wish this would translate to other aspects of life…

There is a perception that mega-brewers are selling a lifestyle while craft and microbrewers are selling an authentic and quality product. However as craft and micro-brews are sold using contemporary marketing techniques one could say they are also selling a lifestyle and in a sense “selling authenticity.” Would you agree with this? Do you believe that the average craft/micro-brew consumer is savvy enough to realize this but consciously “buys into” the message?

I think macro-beer is selling alcohol above all else.  They market to people that don’t care about quality or “craft” – They care about calories, price and being able to drink massive quantities before they toss their cookies in the toilet.  Craft Beer tends to market ethics,  flavor, social responsibility and the beautiful interaction with food.  Just look at the growth of the Craft Brewing segment.  It out-paces macro consistently.  People in this country are finally waking up!  They are more educated about quality, ethics and sourcing in food as well as alcohol.  They understand the value of supporting local food, beer and businesses in general.  Everyone has the ability to vote with his or her wallet and I believe the number of people choosing “craft” everything will continue to grow.  Food, clothing, alcohol, etc…all represent making better choices.  People that are independent thinkers grasp the importance of supporting local products. The masses will follow the early-adopters.  It is just a matter of time.

Beer is not food but an alcoholic beverage. However, craft/micro-brewed beer marketing and culture tend to treat it like a fine food, something almost on par with artisanal cheese or caviar. Do you believe it is the responsibility of craft/micro-brewed beer producers and promoters to impress upon consumers the fact that beer is an alcoholic beverage and not food apart from the obligatory government warnings?

I do not believe brewers should have to answer to stupidity. People that cannot differentiate between food and alcohol have much bigger issues.  We do not need any more government regulation.  We need more individual responsibility.  People need to take responsibility for their own actions.  Drinking alcohol should be done in moderation, regardless of the beverage.  Craft breweries advocate for this.  They preach quality over quantity. This is the key.  I do not drink to get drunk.  I drink to experience the flavor and the interaction of the beer with the food I eat.   I truly appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into Craft Beer and I respect the people that risked it all to bring their beer to market.  Capitalism at work…

Help Anthony Simone(design grad in NY doing masters on craft beer marketing. with his research)…Answer the questions above and email to him at:

anthony.simone@mail.com

@erroneousrex

Grad student at the Pratt Institute working on a Masters in Communications Design. I like water, malted barley and hops (preferably together).

New York City

http://www.behance.net/gallery/Graphic-Design-Portfolio/3708366

Forgive my spelling, grammar, etc…Happy to answer any questions you have!

Cheers
TheArtofBeer
xoxo

Are You Kidding Me? 2.8% ABV – Jester King – Le Petit Prince

Jester King Craft Brewery is located in the Texas Hill country; arguably the most beautiful part of Texas with Austin being the hub.  The Jester King dream was years in the planning and in 2009 they began turning their dream into reality.  As with many craft breweries, Jester King was was born out of the love of homebrewing.  Jester King broke ground on the beautiful brewery seen above in March of 2010.  Their blog does an amazing job of chronicling the blood, sweat and tears that went into the construction of this spectacular facility.  It takes a few minutes to scroll back but it is truly fascinating to see the process via the photographs they have posted.

I had my first Jester King beer courtesy of some nice beer folk in San Diego, the Gartin’s.  They belonged to a rare beer club that shipped a bottle of “Black Metal” Farmhouse Imperial Stout.  I loved the beer at first sip and I was fascinated by the branding.  You should note that the State of Texas has some troubling and challenging archaic laws that make it awfully damned hard for craft breweries to get off the ground.  I could not help but ponder the effort that went in to the making of this product.

Jester King beers recently made their way to San Diego and the seasoned beer geeks have fully embraced their well-crafted brews.  I had a very pleasant surprise last night when I spotted a lone bottle of Le Petite Prince in the cooler at Bottlecraft, my local San Diego bottle shop in the Little Italy neighborhood downtown.  Every beer I have tried from Jester King has been very solid so I definitely want to try as many of their beers as I can lay my hands on.  The label really popped out at me in the cooler and I almost dropped the bottle when I noticed the 2.8% ABV on the label.  What the #$%&???  How could there possibly be a good beer that was only 2.9%?  I was certainly about to find out…

Le Petit Prince is a Farmhouse Table Beer.  The beers pours a sassy yellow-orange and has a nice 2+ finger, white head.  The nose has that bread characteristic I like but I also got a little floral hops,  a hint of lemon and some fresh grass.    The taste is crisp with a little tang.  It has a lighter mouthfeel and carbonation.  Allowing the beer to linger on the tongue a bit brings out the flavor.  Slight bitter hop on the front with lemon and a tinge of earthiness.  I even got a little yeast from it which is amazing when you consider the ABV.  The finish is dry with just a scosh (Am I  making up words again?) of bitterness.  Le Petit Prince drinks far bigger than 2 2.8% beer.  It does not drink like a session beer at all.  I have never had anything like it – ever – and I can say with all certainty that I would be a happy girl if I could find more beer in this vein.  I will be stocking up on this for the summer months.  I don’t have a lawn nor do I own a lawnmower, but if I did, this is the beer I would drink on it!  I can assure you it will be consumed after my weekend runs this summer :)

On a funny note…I shared my beer with the couple sitting next to me at the bar.  As it turns out, they are from Houston and this was their first time trying Jester King beer!  They have a trip to Jester King planned this month but here they were in San Diego trying it for the first time.  It is such a pleasure to share the things you love with nice people.  Make it a point to share a great beer with a stranger.  It is a truly gratifying experience…

Cheers!

xoxo
TheArtofBeer

Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales

Session Beers are the new Double IPA’s.  If craft beer is to become a bigger part of the overall brewing market; lower alcohol beers are a necessity.  Not every palate is suited for big, hoppy IPA’s or boozey bourbon barrel aged stouts.  Me personally…I love big beers and I appreciate the complexity of these beers but I am also learning to love more and more session beers.

I popped in to Bottlecraft in San Diego last night  for a visit with friend Renee.  The place was packed.  My ability to drink beer has been a bit challenged lately so I was perusing the cooler looking for something mellow.  I spied a bottle of Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales “Kili Wit” and my choice was made.

Kili Wit is a 5.5% Witbier brewed with “organic barley malt, wheat and oats along with whole cone Oregon hops and African spice“.   This beer is bready (is this actually a word?) on the nose with hints of orange blossoms, banana and coriander.  The beer pours with a thick, off-white head that holds for a significant period.  Medium carbonation and dry mouthfeel.  The orange zest is prominent on the palate.   I detect a little funk but not sure where it comes from.   No hop bitterness.  The spice is light which appeals to my taste.  I don’t care for really spicy witbiers but that is just my taste.  I thought it finished quite dry with a little lingering spice.  I enjoyed this beer very much as did several others that I shared it with.   It’s so nice to find beers under 6% ABV that have complex flavors.  Consider me a fan!

I love the labels on the Logsdon beers, the Kili Wit being no exception.  What’s not to love about adorable giraffes gazing at the snowy slopes of Kilimanjaro?  In 2015 I hope to cross climbing this peak off my bucket list so the images on Logsdon bottles inspire me.  On a social note, a percentage of proceeds from this beer goes to the  K2 Adventures Foundation.  The brewery operates as a cooperative and the members participate in all aspects of the brewery work.  How cool is that?  They even have a small herd of organic raised Scottish Highlander cattle that dine on spent barely, oats & wheat!!!

You can check out the Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ale’s website here:

http://farmhousebeer.com/farmhouseales.php

This is the 3rd beer I have tried from Logsdon and I am a fan of all three.  I can’t wait to try the Peche ‘n’ Brett and the Cerasus.  I will be keeping my eyes peeled for their new releases in the upcoming months.  I’ll also be checking out availability when I visit Portland next week.  If you can find Logsdon beers in your area, please give them a try.

Cheers!

xoxo
TheArtofBeer

Daily Beer Review – Drink First — Read Later–The Art of Beer Guest Post

I was so honored to receive a request from Daily Beer Review to write a guest post.  Craft Beer is one of my passions and I love sharing beer and thoughts on the subject with so many people.  I hope you will check out Daily Beer Review for my tongue-in-check account of how to use/not use beer reviews.  You will find the link below.

Big thanks to @DailyBeerReview for including me!

xoxo
TheArtofBeer

Daily Beer Review

Diet and Osteoarthritis

My knees sound like the snap, crackle & pop of Rice Krispie’s when I bend them.  It’s been going on for so long I barely notice it anymore.  My right knee is the worst.  Years of skiing and running are the cause.  Sometimes they ache after I exercise and they can swell up if I strain them.  The cause is Osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis, or joint inflammation, is the most common type of arthritis.  It is more likely to occur with age but it is really caused by broken bones, general wear and tear on joints and excess weight.  When cartilage breaks down in the joint, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.

We Are What We Eat!

According to Webster;  ” Food acts as medicine, to maintain, prevent, and treat disease.”  If we eat too much food, or food that is not nutritious, we can become overweight, undernourished, and at risk for the development of diseases like arthritis.  Some foods can trigger reactions in certain individuals and food allergies can also be a factor.   A healthy diet for osteoarthritis can be framed by looking at the foods that should be avoided or eliminated from the diet and by identifying food that can help to reduce inflammation and assist in the restoration of healthy joints.

Bad Food Choices for Osteoarthritis

Diets that are high in refined foods like white rice, white bread, sweets, white pasta, and laden with saturated and trans fats have been shown to contribute to the development or progression of osteoarthritis, according to http://www.whfoods.com (World’s Healthiest Foods), a website dedicated to nutrition education.  Foods that should be avoided include:

  • Fried foods
  • Partially hydrogenated trans fats – margarine, chips, baked goods
  • Saturated fats – such as animal fats (butter)
  • Sugar – white and raw sugar
  • White flour, rice and pasta
  • Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soy-based oils
  • Dairy Products
  • Salt
  • Nuts
  • Cranberries

Alcohol can definitely contribute to joint inflammation.  As with most things in life, moderate consumption is fine but the definition of moderation is a bit subjective these days.  The good thing about Craft Beer (In the World According to TheArtofBeer) is that the ingredients do tend to be natural and of high quality.  If you suffer from Osteoarthritis it is wise to look at the impact of alcohol on your symptoms however.  An elimination diet is the best way to test this.  You can Google the subject to find out how that works.  If you find your symptoms lesson during a period without alcohol,  you can definitely bet that laying off the beer could make sense.

Fast food and prepackaged food found in the aisles of the grocery store should be avoided.  When shopping at traditional grocery chains, the perimeter of the store is the best place to find healthy food.  Avoid foods containing ingredients that you cannot pronounce or that you have never heard of.  Look at the list of ingredients.  If the list is longer than 10 items, step away from the package!  Chemicals and preservatives used to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life are not good.  Eliminate artificial sweeteners like Aspartame and Sucralose.   Remember that natural is better.

Good Food Choices for Osteoarthritis

The antioxidant Vitamin C is important to developing normal cartilage.  It is possible that it can even reverse some cartilage damage.  Osteoarthritis patients who consume more vitamin c in their diet have a slower progression of the disease than patients who eat low levels of Vitamin C.

Foods that contain significant amounts of Vitamin C:

  • Papaya
  • Bell peppers (yellow, red and green)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwifruit
  • Cauliflower (boiled)
  • Kale (boiled)
  • Grapefruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Raspberries

Osteoarthritis also progresses more slowly in patients who have plenty of Vitamin D in their diet.  Vitamin D has been linked to rebuilding cartilage and preventing the breakdown of cartilage.   Foods high in Vitamin D include wild-caught salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod, and eggs.  Vitamin D can be difficult to get through diet alone so supplements should be included in addition to a healthy diet are essential.

Beta-Carotene is a compound is an antioxidant that’s been shown to help protect joints and slow down osteoarthritis. Foods that contain high levels of beta-carotene are:

  • Carrots
  • Boiled spinach
  • Sweet potatoes with skin
  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Winter squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Broccoli

Additionally, Vitamin B3 can assist with joint mobility and range of motion while Vitamin E helps to reduce joint destruction.

There are certain foods that can help reduce inflammation that causes the joint pain.  Foods with Omega 3 Fatty Acid like Wild-caught salmon, Walnuts and Flax seeds are inflammation fighters.  Inflammation fighting flavanoid, and quercetin are found in Apples, Asparagus, Cherries, Green Tea, Onions, Raspberries and Spinach.   Molecularly Distilled Omega 3 Fish Oil supports strong immune function and bone health.

Anti-inflammatory spices include Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Turmeric.  In addition to providing relief from nausea, ginger extract has been used in traditional medical practices to reduce inflammation. This herbal treatment for arthritis is recommended by many health care professionals arthritis and other health problems associated with inflammation. Ginger is available in extracts, tinctures, capsules, and oils. Fresh ginger root can also be purchased and prepared as a tea.

Periodic supervised fasting can be effective for osteoarthritis. Fasting clinics in Europe have successfully employed periodic juice fasting for managing arthritis. Fasting enhances the eliminative and cleansing capacity of the lungs, skin, liver, and kidneys. It also rests and restores the digestive system and helps to relax the nervous system and mind.

Reduce Stress and Lose Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight has a huge impact on osteoarthritis.  Eating a healthy diet and avoiding foods that aggravate the condition will contribute to weight loss.   A regular exercise program under the guidance of a fitness professional is recommended.   It is important to gradually increase the intensity of the exercise to avoid injury.  The right program can help to maintain flexibility, strengthen muscles (and thus lessen stress on joints), and improve overall fitness.  Reducing weight will relieve stress on the joints and improve quality of life.  A healthier diet will improve sleep and reduce stress, both factors in maintaining a healthy body weight and in promoting healthy joints.

This little homework assignment was a good exercise for me.  I am a very healthy eater but now I know the benefit that certain foods may have on my condition.  I’ll certainly be making an effort to eat more foods that help with joint inflammation.

To Good Health!
xoxo
TheArtofBeer