While rummaging through my beer fridge earlier this afternoon I found a few bottles of “Juxtaposition” ; a 2009 Stone Brewing-Brew Dog-Cambridge Brewing collaboration beer. I believe this beer was brewed in the spring of 2009 and released in July. This beer was brewed by James Watt of Brew Dog, Mitch Steele of Stone Brewing and Will Meyers of Cambridge Brewing. With such a talented trio, how could this beer be anything but brilliant?
My first taste of this beer was at the 2nd Saturday Stone Brewing event at Hamilton’s; a craft beer institution in San Diego that is famous for pouring super limited releases. The line was so long when I showed up that I had to call in the Cavalry, errr…. beer superhero Greg K. Minutes later I was escorted down an alley and through the back door to find the glistening Juxtaposition flowing from the tap. Different from any pilsner this beer lover had ever tried; I fell in love at first sip.
So here I am in February of 2011 pouring from a bottle that was stored at about 50 degrees for about 19 months. It pours sultry black with a two finger luscious head. The nose is that of roasted malts and an ever so faint touch of hops. It instantly brings a smile to my face as I breath in with closed eyes and an anxious palate. Anticipation is a beautiful thing; especially when we are referring to an impatient girl like me !
The first taste is of the same roasted malts found on the nose with a subtle bitterness and traces of vanilla and maple sugar on the finish. If I didn’t know better, I would swear this beer had been barrel aged. At 10% ABV, the alcohol is surprisingly subtle. There is a silkiness to the mouthfeel that makes me sigh…
Please note that this beer is better served closer to room temperature to appreciate the complex characteristics. I removed the bottle from my beer fridge before going for a 5 mile run. Suffice it to say I had my eye on the prize the entire way. The rain started pouring down on my last mile and all I could think of was pouring this beautiful beer – I broke an 8 minute mile. Now that is motivation
Cheers & Peace to all…
I needed a little afternoon pick-me up after my visit to the Little Italy Mercato, my neighborhood Farmer’s Market. My pick for a Saturday afternoon beer…Bison Brewing Organic IPA! I am a big fan of Bison Brewing and of Daniel DelGrande, the owner/brewmaster. Daniel is an exceptional person and he pours his heart into his beer. He will be coming to San Diego in January so stay tuned for details on an opportunity to meet him!
The beer pours a beautiful, hazy amber with about a one inc fluffy white head. Light lacing on the glass as the head dissapates. I chose an oversized wine glass because I am in a very girly kind of mood today. I swear it’s from the freshly ironed sheets I slept under last night :0 Oh my… I really like the way this beer looks in my glass. The color is rich and for some reason it is exactly the way I think a Certified Organic Beer should look. Call me silly, but that’s how I think about things. I develop a picture in my mind of what something “should” look like. In this case my perception was spot on. I am a huge supporter of all things organic so this beer speaks to my soul…
I closed my eyes and put the glass to my nose to soak in the aroma of the beer. It has a rich, earthy smell that made me sigh the way I sigh when I like something. This beer uses Tomahawk, Cascade and Centennial hops and I swoon at first sniff! I also get hints of citrus, perhaps grapefruit.
I follow @StoneBrewCo Dr. Bill Sysak’s (@BistroBeer on Twitter) style for tasting my beer. For a great detailed description watch the New Brew Thursday – http://www.newbrewthursday.com/ - Double Bastard Episode. Dr. Bill is the guest and he gives great advice for tasting. The first taste I swish vigorously in my mouth to cleanse my palate . Next I take a small taste in the front of my mouth and pull in some air to open up the palate. The 3rd taste is when you really get the taste of the beer.
The mouthfeel is clean and medium in body. The carbonation light. The hops are well balanced with malt and not overpowering. I like the earthiness. There are light citrus tones — again grapefruit for me.
This is not a big hoppy beer, which I do love, but rather a pleasant, highly drinkable session beer that would pair well with a myriad of food choices. I think I will be creating a special “Grilled Cheese” creation just for this beer. It comes in at 6.8% ABV so I could definitely get used to drinking this beer more often. If you get the opportunity to try any of the Bison beers. Please do so. I think you will be very pleased.
Grilled Havarti with Caramelized Onion & Oven-Dried Tomato
The weather turned chilly in San Diego this week and in spite of my unemployed status, I am feeling very happy about things! Whenever it is cold and rainy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches come to mind and we’re not talking Kraft processed cheese on wonder bread in this beer geek’s casa. Today I whipped up a yummy little creation that was simple, delicious and affordable.
I started with a few slices of organic purple onion from California and caramelized the rings in a saute pan with about 1 tablespoon of my staple item, Trader Joe’s President’s Reserve Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Be careful to cook slowly so they get that yummy look of perfection. While doing this I placed about 8 (cut in half) small cherry tomatoes on a tray sprayed lightly with olive oil and baked them in the oven for about 15 minutes until soft and slightly shriveled. You can also add them cut side down to the pan with the onions (after caramelized) and let cook for a few minutes until they turn into sweet deliciousness. After mine are finished in the oven I add them to the pan with the onions and mix gently to add the caramelized goodness to the tomatoes
Remove onions and tomatoes from pan and wipe clean. I use olive oil in place of butter because I try to watch the foods I eat and also because I am an olive oil whore err…fan! I pour enough to coat bottom of pan and then place two slices of Trader Joe’sSourdough Wheat Bread, flat ends touching in the pan. Heat is set on Medium. Place one slice of Trader Joe’s Lite Havarti on each side of the bread. I choose lite again because I try to watch what I eat but regular is great also. I have to save calories for my stupendous craft beer selections!!!
Trader Joe's Lite Havarti
Cover the pan for a minute or two until the cheese melts and the bread begins to brown. I like to see it start to bubble but be sure to pay attention to the bread browning also. Once ready, spoon the caramelized onion and tomato mixture onto one side of the bread, on top of the cheese. Add to taste but remember to be sparing enough that it doesn’t make the sandwich mushy. Flip the opposite of the bread over onto the side with the mixture. Flip the entire sandwich once to check that both sides are sufficiently browned. Remove from pan and place on a plate. I used the extra caramelized onion and tomato mixture as a side on my plate because I absolutely adore the combination. Let the sandwich cool for a couple of minutes while you admire the pure beauty of your delicious creation. If appropriate…pair with your favorite Craft Beer Selection. I would likely choose a divine California IPA like Stone Ruination – a staple item in my home. Cut in half, curl up on your favorite chair and enjoy!
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.