Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who needs a drink?

This week's D.C. Foodies post is all about the Darby Flower. I've made a few of these since March, and man they're good. And man they're kind of a pain in the ass to make: the zesting, the muddling, the stirring, the shaking. Part of the beauty of a martini is it's such a perfect cocktail that requires little effort to make properly. The Darby Flower isn't nearly as fine a drink, and it requires a good bit more work, but it is worth it, and that's worth something.
My inaugural beer also made its debut a couple weeks ago. I took a case down to my buddy Chris' bachelor party in Savannah ... and brought half a case back to D.C. Fair enough. I was clearly dealing with a Bud Light crowd. Even the few occasions I bought Chris a Mama's Little Yella Pils or a Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale weren't met with much enthusiasm. Don't get me wrong, Chris was always appreciative of my efforts, it's just that the craft beers were always followed by more Bud Light. Much more Bud Light.
To their credit, the guys at the bachelor party were honest about their selection in beer. We were hanging out the first day and the only thing cold to drink was Bud and Miller Lite. I cracked a couple and rediscovered why I'm not a fan (but I tried, people, I really tried). So I couldn't help but to ask everyone else what it was that kept them such loyal drinkers of Bud Light and Miller Lite.
Thank god they didn't say taste. Nah, they agreed the taste was mediocre at best. However, they could drink these low alcohol beers all day long and not get too drunk. They were choosing quantity over quality. I can respect that. It's not my position. I'd rather drink fewer, high quality (and higher alcohol) beers, but I could understand their reasoning.
And despite their preference for Bud, most of them gave my hoppy brown ale a shot and said nice things. Did they mean it? Maybe. But knowing where their tastes lay, I didn't worry too much about having a few leftover beers at the end of the weekend.
Oh, and I joined Facebook. It turns out everyone one else already has.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grouper love and Sig's mug

My latest grilling post for D.C. Foodies pays homage to Florida (my 32nd time and counting!) and one of my favorite foods in the whole wide world: grouper.
Fried, grilled, blackened and roasted, you just can't go wrong with that ugly fish (Seriously, try to go wrong with it. You can't do it). In this case, I tossed it on the grill whole for fish tacos, easily in my top 20 of great dishes. (Ok, don't try to screw it up. It's good fish. Don't mess it up.)
I wasn't planning on featuring a beer with this post (the missus put a temporary moratorium on beer purchases given that the fridge was full of it and I have four cases of home brew in the basement). However, I came across Rogue Brewery's new Captain Sig's Deadliest Ale, a beer inspired by the crabbers on Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch (must-see TV for the missus and me). Add in the fact that Sig Hansen's grizzled mug is embossed on the bottle and I couldn't pass it up.
I describe the beer in the D.C. Foodies post, but one thing that particularly made me chuckle was Rogue calling it an India red ale. This is a rarely used bastardization of the term India pale ale, a term with some historical basis. However, India red ale works as a descriptive term. "India" in India pale ale describes a beer that is hoppier and generally higher in alcohol than a pale ale (pale describes the malt, ale describes the fermentation). So if Rogue adds more hops to a red ale with a higher-than-normal alcohol content, why not call label it an India red ale and call it a day? Rogue isn't the first to do this, but they're one of few.
You've stopped reading, haven't you. Sorry, I'm a beer geek.
Speaking of beer, the home (sort of) brew will be ready this weekend. I'm tossing a case in the trunk and heading down to Savannah, Ga., for my buddy Chris' bachelor party. I'll try to remember to take some photos (of the beer, not much else).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bonus Savor and a rant

My Savor rant is up on D.C. Foodies. Well, it's my rant on the food. The beer and brewers were great. The food sucked, again.
I also got a chance to develop the last roll of film I had at the event. Yes, I shot with film. Yes, it's antiquated. Yes, digital is superior in many, many ways. Unfortunately, my digital camera takes horrible pictures in low light, so I had to fall back on my manual, film camera, which is actually a better -- if more inconvenient -- camera than my digital.
Anyway, the top photo gives a pretty good idea how nice the venue was. Savor was held at the National Building Museum in downtown D.C. It was a great location. If the Brewers Association is smart, they'll hold the event there every year.
Enjoy the photos. (For the record, I have no idea who the guy in the last photo is. He saw my camera and insisted I take his picture. I did. However, the guy in the first photo is Bryan Baltzell from Great Divide. Nice guy. Great beer.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Savor, where the beer is great and the food ... hmm

The Brewers Association brought Savor back for a second year. Good on them. Savor was a hell of a lot of fun last year and it was a hell of a lot of fun this year. Unfortunately, the food still sucks. Seriously, with all the work that the brewers put in the beer, is Charlie Papazian and the folks at the Brewers Association OK with the quality of the slop being dolled out at Savor? They can't be. On the bright side, due to the high quality of the crap served last year, I had a wonderful lunch beforehand at Oyamel.
Anyway, I did most of my venting in the D.C. Foodies post I co-wrote with Rob Rutledge. With all that off my chest, I'll just provide you with a few photos, including one of me chatting up Greg Koch from Stone. (OK, a quick sum up: The beer was great, but I'd like to see a few new breweries next year. The food still sucks.)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bottle brown

Bottling beer is awesome ... for about five minutes. The other two hours and twenty-five minutes kind of suck. I don't know how Laverne and Shirley did it, but now I know why they always seemed to be screwing around.
But at least it's done now and ready to drink ... in two weeks. (Parenthetical comment on the ellipses; I'll stop now.) I washed, filled and capped five cases of beer, which works out to 120 12 ounce beers. Thankfully, my buddy Tim pitched in, which allowed me to reward him with a case of beer ... whether he wanted it or not. (Second parenthetical comment; I lied about the ellipses.)
(Third parenthetical comment; I'm a big fan of Norm Chad, the Couch Slouch. Honestly, he's the main reason I read the sports page -- the one made out of real paper -- between football seasons.)
The other four cases reside in a basement closet under the stairs of my new house. Once the carbonation settles down, they'll be ready to drink. However, a preliminary taste at the brewery and the next day during a lunch the missus and I had with Mr. and Mrs. Peter Falk, revealed that the beer ain't half bad. In fact, it's pretty damn solid. And considering that I have 95 bottles of the stuff waiting for me, that's quite a relief.
After I got all 120 beers bottled last weekend, I had to hustle home because it was only my first beer event of the day. Last Saturday was also Savor ...