Archive for May, 2011


In an effort to expand on the “nonsense” part of my “Beer Reviews, Education and Nonsense” motto, I am starting a new series of posts that will focus on breweriana.  There will be larger categories such as beer coasters, beer signs, and beer posters, etc.  However, beer movies, beer commercials or anything else beer related can and probably will be included.

To get this party started I will be discussing beer coasters.  I have quite a collection of beer coasters as I am sure you do.  They make great souvenirs because  they are light, they fit easily into our pockets or carry-on bags and they are free! But even more than that, I think coasters are perfect souvenirs because that little piece of chipboard can remind us of a particular drinking session.

At some point you will probably start receiving coasters from other people.  I am fortunate because my Mother and Uncle are always on the lookout for unique coasters and the coaster below is one such gift given to me by my Uncle who lives in Europe.   I won’t even touch the wonderful fashion sense or the unbelievable action scene found on this coaster except to say that today’s coaster would probably look much the same except less clothes.

karlsberg beer coaster

Displayed for educational use only.

Literally translated this coaster reads “because life is not only labor”.  While the literal translation is a bit “Yoda-like” we know what it means. What is your interpretation? Leave a comment.


Festival Survival Tips

Be sure to add your festival survival tips on my new Festival Survival Tips tab at the top.

Keg cleaning

Since my move to California two years ago I have been pretty lazy about cleaning my kegs. It hasn’t been an easy thing to do. I had to fill up a keg, fire up a burner to heat the water and then pump the hot water into the kegs.  Well today I tried something new.  I turned the heat up on my water heater and connected a 20′ length of high temp tubing to the drain tap and ran the tubing out the door to where my kegs were waiting to be filled.

Water heater keg cleaning

keg cleaning

To conserver water I filled up two kegs to the top and put a scoop of PBW in each of the other kegs.

keg cleaning

Then I let each keg sit for 30 minutes to let the PBW work its magic then hooked the full keg up to an empty one and used CO2 to push the cleaner from one keg to the the other.

keg cleaningThen a quick inspection to make sure they were clean followed by a rinse.  After two and a half hours of transferring hot PBW water from one keg to the other the water was still uncomfortably hot.  After the rinse I filled one of the kegs with sanitizer and transferred the sanitizer the same way from keg to keg.  This was a really easy cleaning method and a great way to conserve water.  If you have a different method, let me know!

Salute! Beer and Food Pairing Festival

Where are you going to be Father’s Day weekend this year?  No plans?  Then plan on attending Salute! Salute! is a one of a kind, two day beer and food pairing festival taking place in Ojai. One of the reasons this event is so unique is that instead of bringing all the beers you can easily find in your local supermarket, many of the breweries will be spotlighting their hard to find specialty and limited release beers. Also, many of the beers will be poured by the brew masters so this is a great opportunity for you meet brewers from all over the region.   What I find so unique about this event is its focus on beer education.  The event is planned as much as an educational event as a party with plenty of opportunities for you to talk to brewery staff and food vendors about flavor profiles and food pairing options. Salute! will feature over 40 craft beer and food vendors as well as local musical talent all day long.

If you attended the festival last year you will find the event will look a little different this year.  For starters, the festival will take place in Ojai at the Ojai Beverage Company.  The move may seem counterintuitive to you (it did to me at first); however, the coordinators and co-founders (Christine and Joby) have some pretty good reasons for moving it from the beach to Ojai.   The best reason, in my opinion, for moving Salute! to Ojai means the event will be more intimate.  In fact, attendance this year is expected to be about half of that from last year which is good news for anyone who does attend. This means shorter lines and more opportunities to taste limited release beers and specialty food items from all the vendors. One thing will remain the same, though, attendees must be at least 21 years old and NO children will be allowed into the event.

Christine Hansen

Click card to visit Thirty-three Productions

New to Salute! this year will be a VIP Connoisseur’s Dinner that will be hosted at OBC Friday, June 17th from 6:30 to 10:00PM.  Dr. Bill Sysak from Stone World Gardens and Bistro will be hosting the VIP event.  This educational beer and food pairing dinner will highlight some rare beers (he won’t tell us what he is bringing) that will be paired with courses prepared by invited chefs. The event will kick off with a social hour (included in the ticket price) where attendees of the VIP session can enjoy  a pre-tasting of festival beers.  Dr. Bill Sysak will be around before and after the dinner for meet and greets. The VIP ticket also includes one general admission ticket to the festival on Saturday.  As if that wasn’t enough, VIP ticket holders will also be granted an hour early entrance into the festival on Saturday. There are limited VIP tickets for this event and it is sure to sell out so be sure to book your tickets to this event soon.

Joby Yobe

Click card to visit OBC

For those of you who don’t live in Ojai and still want to have a good time and not worry about travel plans there are a few options for you.  You can visit the website to see a list of partner Ojai hotels with deals for festival attendees or you can take advantage of the event’s shuttle service.  Abtey’s Limousine Service will be providing transportation from two Ventura locations and one location in Oak View. Two of the locations aren’t set in stone yet but there will be shuttle service from the Ventura Amtrak station.

For up to the minute information on Salute! be sure to visit their Facebook page.

Next week I will be hosting a discussion on how to make the most out of your beer festival. This will be an open discussion with very little input from me as I will be looking to you to post your beer festival “survival” tips.

Food Pairing: The Basics


food pairings

In an effort to expand on the “education” part of my “Beer Reviews, Education and Nonsense” motto, I am starting a beer and food pairing series.  Specifically, I will be focusing on a particular beer style and discussing why certain types of food pair well with that style.  The great thing about writing about beer and food pairings is that they can be very subjective and are a matter of personal preference. In short, there is no one right answer. I love all kinds of food and I love all kinds of beer so I will be writing with an all inclusive attitude.  If you are a little pickier about your food and beer then I encourage you to comment on the posts and make your own suggestions. Remember, there is no one right answer. 

Getting you started, ASAP!

You can get started pairing beer with food right now if you want.  There’s nothing to it, in fact I bet you have been doing it quite successfully for years whether you realize it or not. Have you ever had beer with pizza? Bingo! How about beer with burger and fries?  That’s a good match, too. These are classic examples of beer and food pairings for a good reason. They taste great together. So you really don’t need to wait for some beer geek to write an blog about food pairings before you start because your beer intuition is working just fine. I am here to help out with the more challenging pairings like spicy Thai, savory stews or even dessert.  Beer isn’t just for pizza and burgers anymore.  

Rule of Thumb.

You have probably heard something similar to “red wines with red sauces and white wines with white sauces”.  There is a similar rule of thumb for beer and it is light dishes should be paired with light (as in delicate or light bodied not diet) beers. Heavier dishes should be paired with heavier or full bodied beers that have big flavors and big aromas. This is a great place to start when you are learning to pair beer with foods. Let’s say you are having a lightly grilled and lightly seasoned fish. A good beer pairing for this meal would be a beer that doesn’t overwhelm your palate like a wheat beer. If you decided to quaff a mighty double IPA with this meal chances are you wouldn’t taste much of your fish because the beer will have fatigued your taste buds.  Conversely, if you were enjoying a heavy flavorful meal like smoked or barbecued meat you would want to pair that with a heavier more flavorful beer just so you could taste what you are drinking. Otherwise you may just as well drink water. 

Beer and Food Pairing Guide-01

Beer and Food Pairing Guide-01

Remember to have fun.

If you use the rule of thumb from above and reference the quick start guide you can get started right away pairing your favorite beer styles with some tasty dishes. Remember you are just eating and drinking beer so don’t forget to have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously.  The last thing the world needs is a pretentious beer prick. 

What to expect next.

In the next post, I will be discussing the different types of flavor pairings which will lay the ground work for the rest of the food pairing series.  After laying the groundwork, I will be dissecting each beer style in an effort to explain why it pairs well (or doesn’t) with a particular food item, course or cuisine.

The Perfect Pint: Specialty Glasses

In an effort to expand on the “education” part of my “Beer Reviews, Education and Nonsense” motto, I am continuing my series of posts that will focus on beer glassware.  Specifically, I will be talking about the glass’s shape and why that particular glass is an appropriate vessel for a specific beer style.

This week I will be discussing “True” specialty glasses.  So far I have been talking in general terms about style appropriate glassware and how they can accentuate the beers that have been poured into them.  On the other hand, “True” specialty glasses are usually specific to one brewery or even one beer.  These glasses come in many different sizes and shapes and are only limited by the imagination of the designer.

Specialty Glass

Specialty Glass

Often, specialty  glasses have a unique story behind them.  My first true specialty glass was a Kwak glass, see illustration.  This glass is a perfect example of specialty glasses because of its unique shape and accessory not to mention a great origin story.  I won’t go into the story here but you will be able to find the story with a quick internet search.

Finding the correct beer for these glasses shouldn’t be too hard.  The glasses usually have the appropriate beer or brewery name on them and often they are sold as gift packs that contain the glass and a few beers as well.  As with any glass, you can drink any beer you want to out of these glasses and you may want to as the appropriate beer may be cost prohibitive to drink on a regular basis.

The Perfect Pint: Snifter

In an effort to expand on the “education” part of my “Beer Reviews, Education and Nonsense” motto, I am continuing my series of posts that will focus on beer glassware.  Specifically, I will be talking about the glass’s shape and why that particular glass is an appropriate vessel for a specific beer style.

The Snifter is my second favorite glass style. Its elegant shape is comfortable to hold, beautiful to look at and allows BIG beers to warm while you drink them.  This warming facilitates the release of carbon dioxide which carries with it the subtle or not so subtle aromas throughout the drinking session.



Snifters are ideal for glasses for beers that have high alcohol levels as their small size encourages moderation.  Snifters also make wonderful tasters because their small size and large bowl allow small amounts of beer to be agitated easily without spilling.  The agitation releases the aromatics from that small amount of beer which are then captured and corralled by the shape of the glass.  The only thing left to do is stick your nose deep inside the glass and enjoy a condensed aroma.