Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Clowns and beer? A frightful combo!

As you all know, Lagunitas Brewing Company is my all time favorite micro brewer in the world, but for some reason there special event for the May has me a little scared. Why you ask? I have a rather weird fear, Coulrophobia. Clowns, yes those red nosed big shoe wearing bozos turn me into a 5 year old girl crying under a table screaming for her mommy. The beer circus by all accounts sounds fun, cotton candy and beer sounds like a delicious combo (to me at least.) But being tipsy around the world's scariest costumed freaks? I don't know yet, I might someone to hold my hand! It's a can't miss event for breweries in Sonoma County though, so I might just have to put on my big girl pants and go! The event is $40 and includes beer, food and all sorts of circus entertainment.Oh, and its on May 22, so put it on your calender, its coming up!

Post about the event coming soon!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Putting that apron on!

It has been decided that this summer I will make at LEAST 4 different batches of beer, hopefully. If all goes according to plan, a new brew will be in my fridge at the end of each month. I have a new partner in the speakeasy business, Greg. He shares my intense love for beer and the brewing process. We have come across some carboys which will allow us to brew larger quantities. But the question still remains, what shall we make? Advice has been thrown around that I should brew a sweet stout, which to me sounds pretty interesting. But a stout isn't exactly on my radar for a spring/summer brew(s). I mean don't get me wrong, stouts are by far one of my favorite beers, but I would like to brew something that captures the lightness, the freshness, the crispness that is the warmer months in Northern California. My tastes for the next few batches lean towards lighter ales, maybe something with a fruity hint to it. But the problem with fruit beers is that the fruit that is added can over power the beer, leading to a  very processed, almost medicine like taste. A sip of my beer is supposed to transport you to the Norcal coast or the Russian River, not to flashbacks of choking down cough syrup. I have never brewed a full fruit beer before, such as a beer made with fresh blueberries for example, but I have always wanted to try. Third Street Ale Works, (Santa Rosa CA), made a delicious fruit beer with sour cherries. The name of the beer had me at hello, "Cherry Springer". A lighter beer with a sweet honey like finish, the aroma smelled almost like Mom's cherry pie, but the taste was rather crisp, with just the hint of cherry with a maroon red color. It was a delightful seasonal beer and I'm sad its not on tap anymore. But Cherry Springer was the perfect example, at least for me personally, on how a fruit beer should be. Not an over powering fruit flavor, just a hint and a strong contrasting beer taste and smell to compliment the fruit chosen. I hope if I decide to go the fruit beer route, I can meet those standards in my first attempt.

It's almost summer and if your from Sonoma County, you know what that means! Stumptown Brewery (Guerneville, CA) holds its annual Beer Revial and BBQ Cook Off! A full day on the Russian River filled with great beer, great BBQ, and great music all on the beautiful Russian River. Tickets are going on sale in June, so hurry up ASAP cause they sell out fast. I know I will be buying mine the moment they go on sale.

I hope April was a great month for you and May is even better. <3

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sun is shining and the weather is sweet

I'm sorry on the late review of Battle of the Brews 2011, been swamped with family, friends and school. But enough with excuses, it's finally spring! Which for me means beer on the beautiful Russian River and enjoying the sun until my pale skin makes me seek shade. Spring in Northern California, which is where I'm VERY blessed to live in, means all the microbreweries whip out special seasonal beers with nice crisp flavors that compliment the sweet weather that is spring. Spring also means I need to be brewery hopping all along the coast trying all those said delicious seasonal beers.

Battle of the Brews was sad to say a slight let down. Since this was my first year I was legally allowed to attend, I had high hopes. Rumor had it that it was the largest beer tasting festival in the North Bay, but to be honest the beer selection was less then to be expected. Lagunitas Brewing Company came strong with a great selection, including my two favorite, their Cappuccino Stout and A lil Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale. Lost Coast brewery brought a rather small selection, as did the normally heavy hitter Sierra Nevada with only 4 beers. I came in with high hopes to see wall to wall booths of frothy delight that is beer, but instead what my eyes beheld was a few tables, greatly spaced apart, and a lot of open empty space. The pluses were the fact that all the beer that was served was delicious and you could taste the hard work each individual company put into their beers, but most booths ran out well before the closing hour and the food was in very short supply. What made the whole event actually worth while was the company I had, amazing friends and my mother. And now before you laugh at me saying "You brought your mother to Battle of the Brews? LOSER" you have no idea how sick my mom is. First, she bought all our tickets, Gregs, Olivias and mine! Second, my mom knows beer. Its a lovely genetic trait she passed onto me. We Andrus/Eshom women know beer. I have high hopes for next years Battle of the Brews, hoping that maybe Sonoma County will actually come through with a raging beer festival.

On a note about Northern California beerfests, I heard from a very tall bird (Greg) that Fort Brag's beerfest was actually larger then Battle of the Brews. Hearing that news, I'm sad that I missed it. But 2012 better watch out!

Now that the sun is out I recommend EVERYONE who loves beer, sun and a very chill atmosphere to check out Stumpton Brewery in Guerneville CA. It is an amazing Brewery right on the beach of the Russian River. Their selection of beer is on point and the outdoor seating is amazing. Try their Rat Bastard Pale Ale, a nice hoppy with a very slight citrus flavor. Along with great beer, they offer a lawn to play frisbee, volleyball, or swim in the river. Stumpton is hands down my favorite brewery in the warm spring and summer months. No fancy labels or rich suits present, just friendly local faces and cold pints, a 100% don't miss.

Enjoy the sun, and if your anything like me, PLENTY of sunscreen!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Hearts, stars and clovers!

Yesterday was every Irish-American's favorite holiday to get completely hammered, and I'll admit I'm one of those yanks who drunkly sings "traditional" drinking songs on March 17th and have a pint of Guinness in my hand all day. Doing car bombs late into the night, telling every cute guy that walked by if he'd like a kiss from an "Irish"girl. It's fair to say after generations of breeding with true Americans, my blood is more red white and blue then green white and orange. But every March, I truly embrace my mixed heritage, and so do thousands of Americans. We are a country of immigrants, even the "true" 'Mericans are just watered down foreigners. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's what makes the USA what it is, a giant mix of cultures. With that said, Kiss me, I'm Irish-American!

But back to St. Patty's day, it was to be the most commercialized holiday of mixed heritages in America. Saint Patrick's was first celebrated with going to church, for it was a Christian holiday. Drinking was apart of it, for the day fell shortly after Lent restrictions were lifted though the drinking was not as excessive nor as profound as it is now. But over the last century, March 17th is not really remembered as a holy holiday, but as a day of binge drinking, similar fate has befallen the Hispanic holiday Cinco de Mayo. I'm not saying we should stop the drinking on "green day", but maybe we who claim to be Irish-American's try to learn more about why we celebrate March 17th and learn more about out heritage. From it's Catholic origins to why the shamrock is St. P's religious symbol.

As a future (hopefully) brewmaster, I have only one thing to say about green beer that is served on the 17th, NO! Do not drink watered down, food colored, overly priced cheap beer! There is nothing truly Irish about ruining beer with food coloring! Beer is NOT supposed to be a dark shade of green, instead it's supposed have a beautiful amber color, a nice golden blonde shade, or a perfect dark brown of a great stout. Barley and hops do not naturally produce a shamrock shade of green! A true Irish-American should have a pint of cold delicious REAL beer in their hands and a smile on their face knowing that they are drinking something that would make their ancestors proud. So do me a favor, if you see any left over green beer, pour it into the streets as a way of social protest! Real beer rules!

Check out this hilarious video about the "brewing" process of green beer staring my favorite actor Sean Patrick Flannery, star of Boondock Saints.

I spent my St. Patty's day the way everyone should, surrounded by friends at a great bar, Stout Brothers , enjoying a few pints, laughing and having a great evening. If you ever have a chance to go to Santa Rosa's Irish pub in downtown Rosa, do so! A great selection of whiskey and beers on tap, corned beef that would put my Grandma's to shame, but seriously don't tell her I said that. A small pub, but the atmosphere is amazing. The bartenders are quick and know their stuff. Perfectly measured car bombs, even when the bar was packed, pints pulled so well that there wasn't large heads on beer, and friendly (and cute) smiles. After the "traditional" bar crawl, I went home and watched Boondock Saints, a movie which has been my St. P's tradition for years.

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Saint Patrick's day! It's also now officially my Spring Break, so expect a review about Sonoma County's biggest beer festival which is this friday, March 25th, Battle of the Brews 2011.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How it all began...

Hi, My name is _______ (insert what ever nickname you have given me) or if we have never met and since this is the internet, we most likely haven't, you can call me Claire. I want to be a brewmaster, to be clear, a brewmaster is someone who makes beer. Sounds like an odd career choice for a girl huh? I didn't always want to brew beer, actually I was quiet a normal little girl with typical career goals. A teacher in grade school once asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I told her with the most serious face a 5 year old can muster, Godzilla. I had wild dreams of becoming a giant mutant lizard, destroying cities and saving Tokyo from radioactive moth creatures, which to me was normal. But reality set in when I was told that was impossible. At that very moment I decided to never let someone tell me something was impossible, (I know now that the closest thing I can do to becoming a large reptile is on Halloween) but I never let the impossible stop me from my goals. And in the last few years, my largest goal has been to be a brewmaster.

“Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done.
God may have been waiting centuries for someone
 ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing.”
 ~ G. M. Trevelyan

My love of beer started young, with my mother. Mommy, as I affectionately call her (or during my teenage years "the women who destroys my individuality") has a very sophisticated palate. She raised me from an early age to know the difference between quality and "piss water". Once, during my rebellious teenage years, she caught me drinking cheap beer. I will refrain from naming big brands (I don't like lawsuits, my lawyer is cranky), but the label said "LITE" in very large letters. Her reaction was far from the typical American mother, instead of being grounded for drinking, she lectured me on the fact that I shouldn't be caught dead drinking that type of beer, that she raised me better, and no daughter of hers drinks "lite" beer. Now, I'm not saying my mother condoned under age drinking nor do I, but she had a point.

 I don't know my exact age of when I had my first sip of beer, but I do remember it was from my Mother, and I do remember it was a microbrew from Sierra Nevada. "Clairebear, beer is special, when your older you'll find more enjoyment from the better tasting beers then the cheap ones. Life is too short to be wasted on bad tasting beer." ~Alice Andrus, to me the smartest women alive. She sparked my passion for cooking too, which for years was my career of choice, Chef Claire. But as I grew into an adult and I experienced the joy I was told about when I was just a snot nosed brat, beer became a true passion. When I found out it was possible to actually make brewing a career, my mind was blown. I quickly started researching homebrewing techniques and gathered a few friends to brew my first batch of beer. Like my first batch of cookies I made by myself when I was 7, I failed horribly. I didn't properly sanitize nor was I patient enough and I opened up the keg before it was time. Batches after that improved, but were still far from what I wanted. Since brewing beer at home is expensive and I'm a poor college student, it has been a few months since my last batch. But this summer's goal is to brew at least 3 beers. My long term goal is to transfer to Oregon State in Corvallis to get a BS in Fermentation Science. 

I started this blog to chart my journey and to write about my passion of beer. I hope you will continue to read from here on out and that you will support me on the road to becoming a great brewmaster. Like my mother said "Life's to short" so I'm going to do what I love. 

"Brewers enjoy working to make beer as much as drinking beer instead of working."

-Harold Rudolph