Thursday, December 11, 2008

Adult Beverage Establishments

Just a quick note about recent developments, all in the city.

The Wedge, at Bates & Virginia, just steps from the iconic, the glorious, the almighty Iron Barley, has transformed itself from...something else...into a proper rock & roll bar. Small stage upstairs, pix of punk icons on the walls, and a TCB beer selection. Stag drinkers of Dutchtown, we salute you.

Mattingly Brewing Co. at Jefferson & Crittenden, in Benton Park, has started allowing glimpses of their upcoming house beers. Once a week, the brewers feature a Peek-a-Brew: samples of two styles that may be on tap soon. Check out the website or for details. Be on time--shit goes fast.

Lastly, The Bleeding Deacon is having its grand opening this Saturday, December 15th. What's the name mean? Does it matter? What we know is that this joint at Gravois & Chippewa bleeds South Side cool, with a big nod to scooter culture. Are they mod or rocker? Just shut up and have a Curly Dog. (Beer selection's nice too.)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Anniversary of Repeal of Prohibition

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment fully repealed the 18th Amendment. Seventy-five years ago, we ended one of the more destructive experiments that this country has undertaken. Make sure to spend Friday educating yourself about this tragedy and celebrating the day we came to our senses.

Here's some fun little bits to get you started: (August Busch Jr's 1933 radio address)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beer on NPR

I've been lucky enough to stumble across a coupla radio shows about beer lately and, compared to the usual cringe-inducing ignorance displayed by most hosts/journalists, Ira Flatow does a pretty good job. Good selection of experts, decent average-guy-but-not-dumbass questions, overall clear, entertaining, informative final product. Pour a nice one and give a listen:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Been gone a while

Yeah, so...holidays, man.
Lots of beer goodness is happening but with all the gatherings and family and trampling of Wal-Mart workers we're expected to do this season, who has time to blog?
But seriously, if you've started tuning in to this here log of webby goodness, I'm very, very sorry for not keeping up. There will definitely be more to come.
In the meantime, why not stop by 33 or the Wine & Cheese Place and pick up some good holiday beer for yourself? Let the relatives drink their Pinot Grigio and Bud Select--more saison for you!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bottling Day

So we bottled the Scotch ale on Sunday at my dad's. All the brothers were there, plus two sig others and an offspring. The Sprout got to help a bit, or at least pose for a few photos that made it appear that that was the case. We spilled a little and got fewer bottles than we should have, and when we sampled the stuff before adding it to the priming sugar it tasted like a super nutty brown ale, and we think The Sprout might have put one of the bottles in his mouth before we filled it, but hey, we got beer. Or we will in three weeks or so. We're planning a Thanksgiving dinner debut, if my father can leave it alone for that long.

Today Dad wants to start the second batch, an IPA. These are kits he bought from STL Wine & Beermaking, by the way. We'll get the hang of extract first, then, someday, go grain. Then again, maybe I should see if we're any good at this before I make any predictions. I wish I'd had time to go to the Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day gatherings I read about recently, but for now I'll just keep reciting the Papazian mantra: Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew. And until we have our own, that means a homebrew of George's or Gabe's or Sarah's, my lovely friends who have bravely gone before.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Duff's Beer Dinner

The eighth annual New Belgium beer dinner at Duff's Restaurant in the CWE was super delicious. I got to sit with my lovely wife and four of our friends, all of us current or former Duff's employees. Everything was excellent, including appropriate glassware for each style and meat-free versions of each dish for the veggies in our crew. That last bit means that those who were willing to try both basically got two dishes per pairing.

Opening the meal was the surprisingly sessionable Mothership Wit paired with a hearty curried lamb samosa in a powerful coriander mint chutney. The chutney was so spicy I had to order a bottle of Third Coast Beer to cool off so I wouldn't inhale the witbier. But soon, spice balanced spice, phyllo married malt, and we were off. Even got seconds. Can't remember what was in the veg samosa.

Le Fleur Misseur, the draught-only, limited release, Orval-inspired, 'Lips of Faith' thing, was next up, paired with a pear/bleu/walnut/cran viniagrette salad. I'm sure the salad was nice but all I cared about was the beer: Brettanomyces, Hallertau, you expected a mess and you got a delicate, balanced symphony.

On to the Blue Paddle with a shellfish chowder. The chowder was just creamy rich enough, not too much. When you took a sip of the beer, it washed the tongue clean with a malty flush, and got you eager for another spoonful. The veg version had mushrooms and whatnot but still had boatloads of flavor.

The national dish of Brazil is apparently Pork Feijoada, this incarnation consisting of rice, yummy black beans, and amazingly flavorful pork sausage. Accompanying it was the Abbey Ale, and once again I was more into the beer than the food. Don't get me wrong, great counterpoint and all, with the rustic meeting the refined and the deep flavors all settling in together. But this dubbel is just so damn big and boozy, you can't help but get contemplative, planning out the rest of your night around this one, glorious draught until you realize oh right two more courses. I'll just set you aside, little snifter, and you can command more of my respect later. Again, the veg version wasn't committed to memory.

1554 with beef tournedos, roasted root veg and a freakin killer beet-horseradish sauce. Now, I've had beets'n'horseradish, or at least I thought I had--this stuff was blood red, almost purple, and thank god there was a lot of it because I made sure it went on everything. The 1554 smelled like milk chocolate and, because of the lager least, went down easy with the spice and the fat and the love. The veggies got a rather tasty big meatball made of Match, I believe, in place of the beef.

Lastly, Giddy Up! and a perfect little mousse-like house-made chocolate tiramisu. This was killer. Just killer. Short and sweet and gone. The light-bodied, sweetish, espresso-accented ale, which I'd had before and liked, was perfect with the delicate dessert--a nice change, as someone pointed out, from the usual too-big-too-late pairings of fruit lambics/imperial stouts/barleywines and oversized choco-cliches. This last beer of the night--except of course for that Abbey I'd been saving--finished with hints of toffee, lemons, and wood, and a strange stinky unidentifiable aroma that just served to make the evening that much more interesting.

Here's to hoping we all can make it to the next affair: the Mangia Italiano Beer Dinner, featuring Schlafly beers, on Thursday, November 20th at 7pm.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Black Gold

Mikkeller Jackie Brown
Schlafly Coffee Stout
Trois Pistoles
Bodegal #103
2006 Bourbon County Stout

Oh my goodness.
Mix with friends, Trivial Pursuit and Halloween candy and you got yourself a party.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Crawl

I tell ya, drinking in the afternoon with a trusted colleague and friend--is there anything better? And on one of the most beautiful days of the year, to boot. Three old-school taverns got our business that day: CW's in the Fairground Neighborhood, Valerie's Sit 'n' Sip in Hyde Park, and Hatfield's in St. Louis Hills. A proper account of these Old Reliables is necessary, but for now, I'll just say that the Stag was cheap, the music sweet and the barkeeps attentive. What else do you need, really?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend Roundup

Excellent drinking this weekend. A rare two-night outing, only accomplished because I got to conduct some business during some of the sessions. Aren't bars great?

Friday night was spent at the venerable Schlafly Tap Room. New chef/GM Andy White has reimagined the menu and everyone's stoked. I had the vegetarian shepherd's pie which was spicy and hearty and delicious, a perfect chilly Fall night bite. It was of course accompanied by an array of liquid hearties, including the Oatmeal Stout, Hop Harvest Ale, and the long-awaited seasonal Coffee Stout. Boatloads of lovely peeps were in attendance as well, which always makes the experience memorable (whattup DanSheenaPaulPaulBrett AmyBrendaKristinAndyTony!)

Saturday I was a little more, um, promiscuous. The evening started at Off Broadway at the KDHX volunteer appreciation party, which featured great burgers and brats from Kenrick Meats, and the sweet sounds of a young gent ("from just up the street") on kazoo and old-timey geetar. Had a coupla Stags--easily the #1 choice for cheap beer aficionados. Then, just down Cherokee to the PHD Gallery, where a colleague was opening a provocative show (entitled "Buy Mark's Art or the Terrorists Win"--check it out). Usually I settle for the white plonk at these things but they had cans of PBR so what the hell.

A quick jump from Benton Park to Tower Grove brought me and my lovely partner for the evening to Friendly's. Oh, Friendly's. This place, I believe, at this point, might qualify as a South Side institution. But so much about the place still just makes me wanna go "Yeesh." First off, this was my dad's haunt when I was a kid, so the phrase "been down at Friendly's" can still elicit an eye-roll in my family. Then there's the familiar scuzzy bar aroma, the fucked up floor out to the patio that threatens to make you spill your drink, the ubiquitous TVs with the game turned WAY UP--not to mention that bizarre big screen near the pissers that allows you to see the security camera feeds! My companion was generous on this last bit, pointing out how convenient it would be for a manager--or just a bar-goer--to be able to see the whole place at once, but it just gives me the creeps. Twenty cameras in this joint? Yow. But here comes the but: Really nice patio bar area, friendly staff (duh), and happy hours that start after 10 pm. Dig that crazy shit. Keep drinking and the beer gets cheaper. Suddenly a round of Schlafly Oktoberfests is five bucks. Who's creeped out now? Not me.

A last-round swing by the new Amsterdam Tavern on Morganford capped off the crawl. The theme here is futbol, with an emphasis on the Netherlands. Decent European bottle selection, big comfy beflowered and firey patio, and, usually, footie on the telly. Tonight, hey, it's the World Series. Phillies are up two games, if you're wondering. Oh--had a Spaten Oktoberfest and a funky fruity decidedly-past-its-prime Fuller's ESB. Didn't say anything because I was more interested in catching up with an old friend who showed up with a literal busload of bachelor party guests. By the way, the whole place erupted in applause when the bus started to unload. That's the spirit!

Don'tcha just love drinking in this town?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The "Honest Pint" debate

Ok, this is interesting.
I've noticed some better beer places in Saint Louis switching to some version of the marked 18-20 oz nonik/tumbler glasses, so the serving can have enough head to be visually and olfactorily pleasing while providing a full 16 ounces of beer. I think it's an excellent development, but I also don't think we'll see the end of the 16 oz shaker pint any time soon. Of course, anything's better than the 12 oz shaker-pint-looking glasses a local restaurant tried to sell beer in a few years back. (Employees rebelled, the 16 ouncers were brought back and the price went up.)

Brew Day Recap

So that turned into a full on party.

My dad invited his homebrewing neighbor, my girl brought a coupla friends, all the bros showed up, it was a thing. The only bump happened when a filter fell back into the mash, gumming things up for a bit. And the water had to be replaced because someone dropped a shrimp into it. And the wort got siphoned rather messily, so there was a little sediment in the final product. But eventually the beer got into the final container and into the office closet to rest.

Next time, it'll be much more dignified.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Homebrew Day #1

Today, I take the leap.

Twelve or so years after opening my heart and taste buds to flavorful beer, ten years of pouring said beer for pay, and about a year after my first batch of mead, I, here, now, today, with my best friend, father, brothers and son at my side, will finally, at very long last, get off my ass and brew some damn beer. Why did it have to become such a big production, you may very well ask? My question as well.

It will be a scotch ale. And this beer will be good. And we will call it "This Beer."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Baby steps

The theme for tonight is Editing.

I just found a bunch of articles I wrote a while back that never really saw the light of day. Trying to polish 'em up now and see if they're worthy to show anyone. Also, the business plan is being overhauled again. Progress!

Got to try the new O'Fallon Cocoa Creme Stout today. Really really nice. Much more approachable than I'd expected. Expected dessert, got more sessionability than most milk/sweet stouts offer.

Sprout's screamin. Gotta go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cheap beer you can't have

So over at stlhops there's a running tally on "what you had last night." I've been skipping it b/c my intake lately has been limited to the same few beers, including Boulevard Pale, Schlafly Oktoberfest and O'Fallon 5-Day. Why have I been limiting myself? I got a deal on six-packs of these lovely reliable session beers. I'll be drinking off these for a while. No, I'm not telling. Get yer own.

I did buy a Mikkeller Jackie Brown from 33 a few nights ago. I'll be holding off on this one though until the sweet cool nights of Fall are here to stay.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This thing here

Just my beer diary. Want lots of information and opinion? Want lots of information and opinion with a local emphasis? Me, I'm just recording my experiences so I stop forgetting them.