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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

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

Curry & Beer…

My Mom's Recipe File

My Mum, Alexandrina, was an amazing cook.  She had an uncanny ability to replicate things she tasted in restaurants throughout our travels.  She was constantly clipping out recipes from magazines or writing down a list of ingredients on an index card. She stuffed her favorites into a cheap little card file you see pictured to the left.  I cherish this box because the very sight of it fills my heart and mind with visions of my youth.  I can smell the aromas of the foods my mother would make and picture vividly sitting at the table enjoying every bite.

An all time favorite in our house was chicken curry.  My dad first acquired at taste for curry in Malaysia and my mum got a basic recipe from a friend that had also spent time there and in India.  The recipe is more of a British-styled rendition but it is absolutely delicious and oh so simple to make.  My mum’s recipes were never about exact measurements so I play around with quantities when I make things.

I use humanely raised, organic chicken breasts and thighs purchased from either Whole Foods or my local Farmer’s Market.  I realize I preach a lot about choosing ethically raised meat, but the significance is huge.  Please make an effort in 2010 to make better food choices when possible.  It takes a lot of drops to fill a bucket but everyone can contribute to change!

I used 3 breasts and 4 thighs this evening. I leave the skin on because it keeps the chicken more tender but you can remove for less fat.  Other ingredients include one each: tomato, green apple and yellow onion along with 2 tablespoons of curry powder, 1 tablespoon of chutney, 1/2 cup of raisins and a pinch of chili powder.  Finely dice the apple, tomato and onion and place all ingredients (including the chicken) in a nice big pot with a cup or two of water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about an hour.  Once the chicken is tender, remove it all from the pot and allow to cool down.  Remove skin, take meat from bone and place in a separate bowl.  Check the pot and remove small bones that may have fallen off during cooking.  Taste for season check and add salt to taste.  I sometimes add a little extra curry powder if needed at this point.  I also pick out the raisins – I love the flavor of them but there is something about the texture that gives me the willies! – Brit saying  🙂 http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/willies

If the apple and onion are sufficiently cooked down, thicken using 2 tablespoons of flour with water.  Add some chicken stock or bullion.  I use an organic one from Whole Foods.  Add the chicken piece back to the pot and simmer on very low heat.  This dish should be served over white rice – I use Jasmine or Long-Grain but you could choose brown rice if you prefer it.  Place rice on the plate and spoon chicken and sauce over it.  In India or Malaysia curry is often served with side dishes such as peanuts, fruit, coconut, etc… My mum’s rendition included mandarin oranges, tomato, apple, chutney, pineapple, banana and anything she happened to have around that she fancied.  I know it sounds bizarre but the flavors contrast the spiciness of the curry seasoning.  Spoon selections on top of curry.  It’s actually delicious.  I made this one mild because my friends Renee & Jordan (seen in photo at right) are not particularly good with really spicy dishes.  I added crushed red peppers to mine because I like things extremely spicy.  I also have to carry Rolaids where ever I go!

We wanted to sample several different beer styles to see what paired best with the flavors in the dish.  We selected Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Hop Stoopid (8% ABV) a Imperial/Double IPA, Bison Brewing Organic Farmhouse-style Saison (5% ABV), Witkap-Pater Abbey Singel(Brouwerij Slaghmuylder-6% ABV) and Brasserie DuPont Avril, a very light (3.5% ABV)Saison-style table beer.

Renee really liked the light contrast of the Avril to rich flavor of the curry.  All three of us liked the Witkap and noted the sweet malt and lemon brought out the complexity of the curry spice.  I enjoyed the Bison Saison combination of fruit and spice. It really brought out some of the flavors in the curry.  The Hop Stoopid was also very good but all three of us seemed to move to it as the finishing beer for the meal.  In the end, we liked all of the beers and agreed it was amazing how different the food tasted when sampled with the different beers.

There is no right or wrong with beer and food pairing.  You should let your senses run wild and explore all the amazing possibilities.  If you like it, that is the important thing.  I adore the endless possibilities of beer and food pairings and celebrate the sheer delight of flavor explosion in my mouth!  This is what I love about craft beer.  It’s all about the journey…

XOXO

Warmest Holiday Wishes from TheArtofBeer!

It is the Eve of Christmas for those who celebrate it and regardless of faith, this time of year is one when family and friends should be celebrated.  I have personally struggled with my faith for many years but it does not preclude me from appreciating and respecting what the holidays mean for others!   It has been years since I had a family to share the holidays with but I am blessed with fantastic people in my life who care about me as if I were family.

For those spending the holidays with family and loved ones, please remember to be patient and love them with all your heart.  There will come a day when your memories will carry you through.

The "Beer-O-Temp" Selection

Today I celebrate by cooking a special dinner for some friends.  I cook with love and nothing makes me happier than spending my time preparing for guests.  The fridges(s) are stocked with the usual amount of amazing craft beer and I am thrilled to share any of these amazing selections with my friends.  I am a tad bit obsessive with the beer collection so I think it’s good that some of the supply will be reduced today.   I just can’t seem to help myself…IT all looks so delicious and I feel it is my personal duty to sample as many amazing selections as I can.  Stop buying so much beer !

Note to self…”New Year’s Resolution #1″

The Prime Rib!

Roast Potatoes - Brussel Sprouts - Winter Harvest Pilaf

I am serving a beautiful 10 lb – 5 Bone Prime Rib purchased from Home Grown Meats in La Jolla.  Please note that I reduced from a 7 Bone after I realized it would feed a small country!  If you live in San Diego I highly recommend this place.  The beef is locally, ethically & humanely  raised.  There are no hormones or antibiotics used.  These are things that are very important to me when I make food choices.

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes!

In addition to the Prime Rib, I am serving a Simple Green Salad, Fingerling Potatoes roasted with onion, garlic and Herbs of Provence and roasted Brussel Sprouts!  For those squincing face up in pain at the mention of brussel sprouts – I challenge you to taste mine.  They are delicious and soooo good for you.  There will also be a Winter Vegetable Rice Pilaf courtesy of Whole Foods!  Hey…The Art of Beer only has so many hands!
The beer parings are to be determined when my guests arrive but suffice it to say I have all the bases covered!  Rumor has it there will be a Brew Dog Tactical Nuclear Penguin tasting!  For those picking themselves up off the floor…I’m sorry!  I promise we will Tweet reviews later this evening — if we are still capable of typing that is!
For each of you I wish Love, Peace & Happiness for this Holiday Season!  Remember to hug you family extra tight and tell them how much they mean to you!  Today more than ever, I cherish the memory of mine…
Love,
TheArtofBeer
XOXO