Thursday, November 30, 2006

Event: Two local tastings (winter seasonals and stouts)

If you are in the Southwest corner of Ohio in December, there are two tastings worth checking out. I hope to be at both, and if I make it to them, I will provide a full review (although that's no excuse for not coming!).

Winter Seasonals
Jungle Jim's
December 8th at 7 p.m.
$25 (and, if it's anything like the Garrett Oliver tasting, well worth the price)

Boston's Bistro
December 21st at 8 p.m.
$5 (a bargain!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Update: Boston's IS the most arrogant!

Just found out that Boston's Bistro has taken the title of Most Arrogant Bar (Pub)! I thought we were just competing for the Ohio title, but it turns out we took the whole US by storm. So, for the next year, Boston's will be known as the Most Arrogant Pub in the US! More from Dave:
WE Are “the Most Arrogant (bar) PUB in the United States of America” “The World” ! ! ! Of 47 bars competing across the U.S….. We sold Over 2,634 Pints of Arrogant Bastard Ale, Double Bastard, Oaked Bastard and Pale Ale in One Week ……. Greg Koch, founder of Stone Brewing Co. Called me Wednesday the 22nd at 8:00 pm to let me know…..what an Arrogant Bastard I was beating out His home ground, Brews of Grandville, OH……I have no idea how close anyone else was to our sales, and frankly I didn't give a CaCa at the time.

Mark ('ll Bastard ) and I do not get a trip to San Diego as we thought. When I asked Greg what's up? He said he's not only an Arrogant Bastard, but a Cheap Bastard as well! We do get a Plaque and Bragging Rights for 365 days to Claim are Bastardship in the World !

Look for Dave Larsen's article w/ Jim Witmer's photos in “GO” this Friday….Pick up a copy, send it to a friend, Email it to someone in the World…Brag on Dayton, Ohio….south of Clayton/Englewood that something Cool is Happening NORTH of Downtown Dayton…..and We've just Begun…..

Special Koszonom Szepen's, to ALL of you ( you know who you are ) who “Showed your Support”, “Did your Part” and “Made a Difference in Dayton”……with-out all you Arrogant Bastard Lovers we could not be Arrogant Bastards.

We will have a Stone Brewery product on draught or Firkin (Cask Conditioned Ale) for the next 365 days. Buy all the 3ltr Bottles of Stone you can this year, re-fills will on the Cheap while we GO for the title Again, the next time around…..
Glad to have done my part (we killed off more than 3 growlers in about 5 days)!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Event: Gordon Biersch Winterbock Tapping

Just got notice through that Columbus' Gordon Biersch Brewery is tapping their Winterbock this Thursday, November 30th from 5:30-7:30. Alas, I don't think I'll make it there, but would love to hear from anyone who does. Here are the details:

Gordon Biersch
401 N. Front Street #120
Columbus, OH, USA

And the brewery is requesting that you bring a Toys For Tots donation.

Recap: Garrett Oliver at Jungle Jim's

A couple of weeks ago (and you'll have to excuse the lateness of this post--it's been a hectic coupla' weeks), Garrett Oliver hosted a tasting at Jungle Jim's, just outside of Cincinnati. As most of you know, Oliver is the headmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, as well as the acclaimed author of The Brewmaster's Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food and an evangelical spreading the gospel of food and beer pairings.

I accompanied Jim, Kelly, and Nathan to this event. Before the formal hosting began, Oliver sat down with our table for about 20 minutes to answer some questions from Jim, who will be running a piece in the Dayton Daily News soon.

Garrett Oliver discussing one of the samples (photo courtesy of Jim Witmer)
Oliver ran through his brewing background, relating how his time in London left him craving real beer once he was back in the states. So, in 1989, he started brewing for the Manhattan Brewing Company. A few years later, he jumped over to Brooklyn Brewery, where he is now the brewmaster and VP.

He discussed his devotion to educating the general public about craft brew, especially as it relates to food and beer pairings. He hosts hundreds of tastings a year like the one we participated in. Some of these include beer/wine competitions against some of New York's most noted sommeliers. Readers of this blog will also recall Oliver's numerous appearances in articles on beer, as well as his recent book (see above). And Oliver's work appears to be paying off. As evidence, Oliver explained that Gramercy Tavern, one of NY's hottest restaurants, has now added a vintage beer list to their already large beer offering.

Oliver also previewed some exciting news from Brooklyn Brewing. First, he detailed Brooklyn's new bottling line, which will soon be filling a 750 ml corked, bottle-fermented brew based on Brooklyn's Blast! experimental IPA. He contrasted Brooklyn's bottle-conditioning method, which would be similar to the method homebrewers use (priming suger and a yeast charge creating all of the beer's carbonation), with that of most other commercially-available bottle-conditioned beers, which Oliver maintains are usually almost completely carbonated before they go into bottles, and are just given a quick yeast charge.

He also discussed the results of a collaboration with Belgian brewer Achouffe. Oliver recently visited this Belgian brewery, and folks from the brewery returned the visit, bringing with them some of their yeast. Look for something from this collaboration relatively soon, presumably in small batches.

Oliver was then called to his hostly duties. In addressing the crowd of more than 100, he first discussed a phenomom that might be best described as the "supermarket matrix," where we as consumers buy food as fuel, not primarily for the purpose of enjoying the food in and of itself. The best example was commercial bread. He contrasted homemade bread with store-bought bread and noted that shelf-life, not taste, drives the way that commercial bread is made. He then brought the analogy home to craft beer, highlighting the change from "utlitiarian" macro-beers to flavorful craft brews.

Then, after a quick overview of the brewing process (including an explaination of ales vs. lagers and pale vs. dark beers), he launched into the tasting. As we samples each of the nine beers, Oliver discussed why beer, with its complex tastes, often pairs better with foods than wine does. He noted that while wines can contrast with foods, they can't compliment the range of flavors that beers do. He empasized, as an example, how the carmelized flavors in grilled and roasted meats play well with similar flavors in brown ales.

Here's the full list of the beers we tried:
  • Pilsner (amazingly crisp, slight sulphur note. One of my favorites of the evening)
  • Penant Ale '55 (The first of several beers we tasted brewed with Maris Otter malts)
  • Lager (a Vienna lager)
  • Brown (another Maris Otter beer)
  • Winter Ale (sorry, no link, but Oliver noted that this beer was first brewed for export to Denmark)
  • East India Pale Ale (very nice hop balance)
  • Blast! (Unique!--floral citrus up front, but an abrupt change mid-swallow, as a piney hop taste and a dry finish dominate)
  • Monster Barleywine (the final Maris Otter beer, and one that I picked up a sixer of on the way out)
  • Black Chocolate Stout (a great dessert beer that uses malt to acheive the chocolate flavor)

My favorite was Blast!, which I hope makes its way out my way when the bottling line is complete. I've never tasted anything quite like it. The Pilsner and the Barleywine also still stand out as favorites.

If Garrett Oliver hosts a tasting anywhere near you, go. He is extremely knowledge. He also seems to be a really nice guy. And if you live near Cincinnati, definitely check out some of the other tastings at Jungle Jim's.

Garrett Oliver with me (okay, it's not as great a pic as the one Jim took, but it was cool to have met Oliver personally)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Event: One Ohio race left undecided . . .

Boston's Bistro is still in the running to become the Most Arrogant Bar (Pub) in Ohio. They've sold over 14 half-barrels of Arrogant Bastard thus far, and will continue selling through this evening. I filled two growlers last night, and bought a pint and a pint glass while I was there. By weeks' end, I personally will have helped kill off more than 3 growlers of the stuff. (Thanks to Shane and George for delivering a growler Friday night!).

Here's the info from the Boston's email newsletter:

Arrogant or What ????? ……We are in our 14th ½ barrel of Arrogant Bastard Ale and going Strong…..Thank you, Mike Schwartz from Belmont Party Supply…………Thank you, Dave Larsen…….Thank you, B-Man from WTUE…….Thank you, Jim Witmer……We are NOW filling any 3ltr Arrogant bottle for only $13.00 ……..Still…$2.00 pints…$2.00 Arrogant Glasses…….$7.00 Growler fills……$4.00 growlers..w/ $15.00 Growler “Comforters”…….3ltr Arrogant Bastards for $70.00….3ltr Double Bastards (10%) for $80.00…… REMEMBER !! REFILLS only $13.00 !!!! PLEASE…Help us Empty 11 more ½ barrels to Earn the “Most Arrogant Bar ( Pub ) in the United States”….. We have until Closing Thursday Night to make our Mark in this Arrogant World…….(we are accepting visiting growlers)………..We'll be seeing you Bastard Lovers tonight and tomorrow…..

Monday, November 06, 2006

Event: Wine tasting to benefit seedling Foundation

I usually stick solely to beer-related topics, but this is for a good cause. This Friday, the seedling Foundation is hosting a wine tasting at Therapy Cafe. Proceeds go to Stivers School for the Arts, the art magnet for the Dayton Public Schools (where I teach middle school creative writing). If you go, be sure to pick up a copy of Our Time Is Now, the creative writing literary magazine, which is entirely student-produced.

For more info, call or email Kristen Wicker, the creative writing director.

Below is the press release:


Dayton, Ohio − The seedling Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to benefit Stivers School for the Arts, will sponsor a wine tasting from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, at Therapy Cafe, 452 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton.

Tickets are $20 at the door and in advance and include four tastes of wine, hors d’oeuvres and music. In addition, 50 percent of the ticket cost is tax-deductible. Advance tickets are available at Therapy Cafe or by contacting Stivers’ creative writing department director Kristen Wicker at 937-542-7425 or via e-mail at

All proceeds benefit Stivers School for the Arts’ creative writing department and will be used for such expenses as classroom technology, publishing costs of the school’s newspaper, workshop fees for visiting writers and field trip transportation.

“This event is a wonderful opportunity for people to support Stivers young writers while enjoying a relaxed evening and terrific wine and food,” Wicker said. “Our students really appreciate the variety of writing experiences the department is able to offer, which are funded in part through events such as this one.”

More than 200 seventh- through twelfth-grade students are enrolled in Stivers’ creative writing department. In addition to writing such genres as fiction, nonfiction and poetry, students also learn such skills as lyric writing and book making. Currently, several students are participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, in which they’re writing at least 1,800 words a day to complete a novel by the end of November. Creative writing students also write and publish Stivers’ newspaper, Tiger Times; national literary magazine, Our Time is Now; and yearbook.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Recap: October Beer Appreciation Night

Last Friday, Nathan hosted the beer appreciation group at his place. Our Beer Appreciation Nights consist of a loose collection of folks here in Dayton who meet on a semi-regular basis, each bringing something interesting for folks to sample. It had been a long while since our last regular meeting, although I hosted the summer picnic in July and many of us attended AleFest in August.

As usual, we had another great beer line-up. First and foremost was the pony of Two Brothers’ Heavy-Handed IPA (and the accompany pint glasses Nate provide as party-favors) that our host schlepped back from the brewery outside of Chicago. A lot of us were really anticipating this beer, and we were not disappointed. Super hoppy, with a malty-backbone that balanced the hops. The aroma alone was enough to make one drool.

In addition to the keg, we sampled the following (pic to follow soon):

All the beers were excellent. Some notes on specific beers:
  • The Bar Harbor brews were a treat imported on the back of a pick-up truck from Maine. The Thunder Hole Ale would make a great session beer, if only one could get more of it round these parts.
  • The Blue Goat Doppelbock really impressed the group. Great malt character, and the high alcohol was subdued.
  • The Imperial Pumpkin Ale was a treat because several of us had tried it at the Boston’s Bistro tasting a week prior. I was really intrigued with the floral aroma.
  • Prior to this evening’s festivities, I could have sworn I had tried the 120 Min IPA. After tasting it, I am certain I’ve never had it or anything like it. It was astounding! Very well-balanced. I’d love to drink more of this, if only we could get it regularly in Ohio
  • Not technically a beer, but containing beer--at Jonathon’s suggestion, Nathan picked up a couple of pounds of the Cabot's Harpoon IPA cheese. It was a huge hit.

We had about 8-10 folks there, which is about the usual size. There were a lot of new folks this time around--I'm glad to see us outreach to folks with growing interests in craft beers. The next Beer Appreciation Night is set for sometime in December, but may not actually contain any beer. George and Shane are eager to host a bourbon night (and we are eager to attend).

Thanks again to Nathan for hosting, and for setting the bar so high!