Monthly Archives: January 2012

Golden Road with the Girls!

Happy Tuesday! Beautiful day to be alive, isn’t it? Today, I met up with my best friend from way back in middle school at Golden Road Brewing.
Adore this girl. You may remember her from my visit to Craft & Commerce in Little Italy back in May.
Oh, how I’ve missed my fellow TAG (Talented and Gifted – yes, we were nerds back then… still are…) friend!
They don’t have any taster flights yet, so I got a sip of all the house beers on tap and then settled for the low ABV Hefeweizen. Delicious and perfect for a 70 degree day in Los Angeles.
We decided to split a whole mess of deliciousness. This was the Rosemary Turkey Club – peppered bacon, white cheddar cheese and beer-braised turkey with parsley aioli. This was demolished.
I had to order the Coconut “Noodle” Salad again. This is so flavorful and full of happiness and health. This negates every calorie I absorbed today. Cuz there are vegetables in it. And it’s vegan. End of story.
These deep-fried wild mushroom risotto fritters were totally cancelled out by that salad above! I had the maple fritters the first time, which were delicious, but these knocked those babies out of the ballpark! Full of earthy mushroom flavor and topped with vegan pimento cheese, fried to a fluffy crisp. I can honestly say that I had NO IDEA that the dip was vegan! I may have scraped the remains out with a spoon. And by may, I mean I did.
Deep-fried deliciousness. My fingers were smothered in that “cheese” sauce.
The orzo pasta – also vegan and delicious! The perfectly tender roasted veggies and orzo pasta are lightly tossed in a fresh olive oil and balsamic dressing. I tend to avoid vegan foods in rebellion of my bro and his wife being vegan (I’m ridiculous and crave excessive amounts of pulled pork when we go to visit them in Colorado), but Golden Road has completely changed my perspective!
My gorgeous cousin, Allie, stopped by after her nursing class! They weren’t perturbed by me taking mass amounts of pictures at all… Two of my favorite girls in the entire world. Insert smiley face here.
(This picture is so awesome it needed to be used twice)
Kim ordered a gigantic soft pretzel (they were out of the “small” pretzels) that included more of that delicious vegan pimento cheese and the HOTTEST horseradish mustard I have ever tasted. Kim took a bite and turned bright red with watery eyes to match. Please use with caution.
Delicious pretzel face – a little over the top with salt, but once you scrape that off, it’s perfectly soft and surprisingly flavorful.
This was recommended to me by Michelle, who stopped into Enegren Brewing’s tasting room a few months ago. Thank God for Twitter, eh? BLATANT ADVERTISEMENT TO FOLLOW – MY TWITTER, UNTAPPD and FACEBOOK PAGE! My apologies.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we? Croissant bread pudding covered with brown sugar, salted caramel (an actual OMG moment – and I HATE it when people say OMG) and fresh whipped cream. Michelle – from the bottom of my heart, thank you for encouraging me to order this! We ordered a second one after we’d finished licking the plate. I’ve said this a few times, but this is the most up-to-date BEST BREAD PUDDING I’VE HAD! I’m willing to try more to make sure that this claim is true…

And that was my Tuesday! The brewery visit was necessary in order to recover from last night – working an event for Enegren down in Oxnard for The Kitchen which was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives! What an amazing party!
I wore my brewniform…
…served tons of beer samples to the gigantic crowd…
…and have a huge list of people who now want to come visit the brewery! If you’re up for it, tasting hours are listed here!
And here’s a random picture of my early morning hike. Just because. Happy Tuesday!

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Beer Tasting Process

During all of the tastings I’ve done with Grayson and Frank up in Santa Barbara, we’ve utilized the following method for our empirical research. In addition to what’s below, we also take notes on aroma, appearance, flavor, mouthfeel and overall impression.
For your tastings, you can download the above scoresheet here. This is a great tool, along with the flavor wheel, to help increase your “flavor vocabulary” when it comes to figuring out if a beer is roasty, toasty, nutty, grassy, grainy, yeasty, acetic, etc. There are TONS of different descriptors out there and it’s good to be able to verbalize the subtle differences between each substyle.

Ever single beer I consume at home is now accompanied by this:
I have the different style guidelines printed out from the BJCP, and sip through each beer while reading them and comparing beer to paper expectations.
Lost Coast Downtown Brown was my latest tasting. This one is relatively close to style except for being a little thinner-bodied than the guidelines state, as well as having a lower hop bitterness. The aroma starts off with burnt caramel and slight toffee and just a hint of cocoa at the end. Medium-high carbonation with a slightly thin body full of caramel sweetness and slight roasty notes. No finishing hop bitterness. At 5%abv, this beer is an easy drinker! As of now it’s my favorite brown, but I prefer it much more on draft.
This is the best way to enjoy a tasting – gorgeous sunsets and warm weather. Thank God it’s January, eh?

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Ladies at Ladyface: 8

Last night was the beginning of Ladyface Ale Companie’s second anniversary! It also happened to be a Ladies at Ladyface night. Awesome.
My mumsie and I split a flight of the “Last of the Best”, which ended up being a bunch of Ladyface beers that had been spiked with Brettanomyces or Lactobacillus and aged in barrels with some extra additions.
Not quite sure what I was expecting, but this was delicious! The sours were actually sour – not the syrupy sweet that you taste in a Lindeman lambic. Adored almost all of them. I had two I fell head over heels for: the Le Cerise – the sour cherry ale that was a lambic style, but instead of sickly sweet it had a delicate lacy finish of tart cherries. The other: Verrückt Weizen – Ladyface’s Weizenbock that was spiked with Lactobacillus and Pediococcus, then aged in a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel.
Todd’s India Brown Ale was next on the list – Ladyface’s IPA with tons of chocolate malt thrown in, giving it a rich color and a malty chocolate flavor. I paired this taster with our main dish of the night.
Belgian ale-braised short ribs with melted leeks and root vegetables. I wish this picture didn’t make it look like chocolate cake. It was tender, decadent and melted on the tongue. I have no idea how they “melt” leeks, but I will never look at a leek the same way again! This is one of those meals I dream about. Pairing this rich dish with the India Brown was the perfect combination. Pardon me while I attempt to stop drooling.
I also had to order the mac and cheese with bacon and jalapeño. Delicious, but the short ribs blew everything else out of the water. Drooling again in remembrance.
Seeing that it was Ladyface’s second birthday, Cyrena brought out some celebratory bread pudding! I was stuffed to the gills, but couldn’t be rude and deny bread pudding! Manners… yes, that’s why I ate the entire thing…
We had the regular group of ladies there last night, plus a few newbies.
We ended the night with our new Ladies at Ladyface t-shirts and a Ladyface second anniversary tulip glass. My tulip glass happened to be full of the Le Cerise.
If you purchase one of these glasses, you can bring it in in the future and get happy hour priced pints! Epic. Just plain epic.

Time for another beer tasting! Brown ale is on the menu, complimented by a long sheet of BJCP guidelines. Study time!

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Beer Pairing: Sweet and Sour Chicken

Welcome to the second edition of pairing food and beer! This recipe is compliments of my mumsie who threw a bunch of random things into a bowl and made delicious magic!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Quinoa

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 40 minutes
Total time 55 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Tender chunks of chicken and roasted vegetables are tossed together in a sweet and tangy marinade, completed with a side of light, fluffy quinoa.

Ingredients

  • 2lb chicken breast (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons gin
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 can chopped pineapple (drained, juice reserved)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Directions

Step 1
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, gin, soy sauce, olive oil, onion, bell peppers, pineapple and pineapple juice. Stir well, cover and let marinate for 1-4 hours.
Step 2
With a slotted spoon, remove vegetables and chicken and spread one even layer on a cookie sheet covered with foil.
Step 3
Take the marinade and bring to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer until reduced by 1/3.
Step 4
Roast vegetables and chicken in an oven preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally until chicken is no longer pink inside.
Step 5
Remove the chicken from the trays and place in a bowl, covered to keep warm.
Step 6
Roast the vegetables until soft and golden – about 15 more minutes.
Step 7
Cook quinoa according to directions on package, substituting chicken broth for water.
Step 8
Serve everything together, drizzled with the marinade reduction.

Deliciousness marinating!
Spread in one layer so all the vegetables are cooked evenly.

This is a hearty, filling meal with a lovely tangy sweetness. I’d recommend pairing this dish with a rich nut brown ale or any other sweet malty beer to really emphasize the caramelized sugars that form as a crust on the pineapple after it’s baked in the oven. If possible, drink local!
Enegren Brewing’s Valkyrie California Alt – rich, malty and a smooth finish. The residual sugars in this match perfectly with the marinated chicken and vegetables.
Island Brewing Company’s Nut Brown Ale – this one is a little drier, but still has enough malty sweetness and roasty back-end to enhance the sweet marinade reduction. If you want to be blown away, throw a handful of roasted peanuts on top, combine with a nut brown and let your taste buds go crazy!

Some mainstream beers that would pair well with this dish:
Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale – rich malts and a toasted nutty finish with just a touch of hops.
Chimay Premiere (Red) – sweet dried fruits and a relatively dry end.
Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler – hints of chocolate and toasted nuts with medium high carbonation and light sweetness.

I’m sure there are plenty more! If you make this, share your beer pairing choices!

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Porter Tasting

Before our porter tasting up in Santa Barbara, Gray and I met up at Island Brewing Company in Carpinteria for an ocean view and a preparatory pint.
A beautiful day, as usual, on the coast.
I got a small pint of their Nut Brown Ale – a light, slightly thin-bodied brown ale with a toasty back-end and crisp finish with a gentle hop bite.
I also got a preview from the brewer, Shaun, of their upcoming Big Island Imperial Pale Ale straight from the fermentor. Dave, the guy working the taps, polished up last year’s bottle for me. This beer is brewed on the first of the year, every year. It’s a smooth sip with a nice punch of hops in the end and will be pretty high up there in ABV. I think I heard someone mention it’ll end up around 10%?
Grayson got Jubilee Ale – a sweet, malty beer with a full aroma of caramel and dried fruits.

After enjoying a relaxing hour and a half there, we headed off to stuff ourselves with mass amounts of Indian food and ready our stomachs for a night of porter tasting!
I’m fairly certain that we got an affected Anchor Porter – all I could smell was green apple (acetaldehyde – the sign of a young beer that hasn’t matured fully) and the taste was similar to the aroma. After reading about it on Beer Advocate and seeing everyone list it as “coffee, chocolate, roasty” I’m fairly certain that something was wrong with it. I’ll be going to another store to try this one again in the future. My favorite of the evening was Shipyard’s Imperial Porter – a rich porter that pours a dark mahogany with a long lasting tan head, a sweet aroma of brown sugar and currants with a matching flavor full of burnt sugar, hints of mocha and dried fruits with a slightly spicy finish. This beer also fit the BJCP descriptions almost to a tee, which is one of the purposes of these tastings – trying to distinguish between the sub-styles of so many beers.

Now back to burying myself in Tasting Beer and the draft system manual again! So much to learn!

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Practice Makes Perfect

I spent most of yesterday making beer flashcards and studying aroma notes, so I decided it would be good to put that studying to practice and see what I’d truly learned. And by that, I mean I went to Ladyface for the evening, had a flight of beer and enjoyed a long afternoon.
Since I’ve tried all of Ladyface’s beers, I went for their flight of the week.
Sierra Nevada has taken over the guest taps! My flight was served right to left. I’m not a huge fan of sweeter beers, but I’m slowly learning to like tripels and quads! I’m finally getting out of my hopheaded stubbornness!
In between tasters, it’s necessary to cleanse your palate. Bacon and jalapeno stuffed mac ‘n cheese topped with salt and vinegar chips probably isn’t the best way, but man, was it worth it!
They had a sausage plate featuring pork, duck and rabbit. Turns out I’m not a big fan of rabbit. I just couldn’t get the image of our trail bunnies jumping through my path out of my head. I had a bite of each and then felt too weirded out to continue…
We enjoyed a relaxing two hours inside, soaking in the ambiance and slowly sipping through the flight. As I was walking out I was stopped by a couple enjoying their dinner who recognized me and said they follow my blog! So sorry I didn’t get your names or formally introduce myself, but thank you so much for the sweet comments – you really made my night!
Ladyface will be celebrating their two-year anniversary starting next week! You can bet I’ll be there supporting them!

I’m heading up to Santa Barbara today for a little Cicerone study session and porter tasting with Grayson! Have a wonderful Tuesday!

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Golden Road Brewing

Ever feel like the week is just way too long and you need to get out in the middle of the day on Friday and go visit a brewery? Yeah, me too.
I’ve been reading about Golden Road Brewing for about a month now and was dying to get in there and try some of their brews and foods before their grand opening on Sunday. Yesterday the family and I, pooch included, drove out to LA to give it a taste.
The inside of the yellow building (the pub) is cavernous and bright with a beautifully long bar draping across the end.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside – around 82 degrees Fahrenheit, so we decided to enjoy the patio. They have a specified dog patio below this one with umbrellas where you can hydrate your pup and enjoy your meal.
Clean dog beds and fresh water!
It’s great to have a place that’s dog-friendly! We’ve been quite limited in our outings thanks to this fuzzy one.
Behind the bar is a large chalkboard with the entire menu written across. Since they’ve only got three of their beers on tap they weren’t giving out tasting flights. We had to order full pints. Bummer.
We ordered almost across the board – Golden Road Point the Way IPA, Hangar 24 Chocolate Porter and Golden Road Hefeweizen. Their IPA is crystal clear and delicately hoppy – a nice change from the intense hopbombs that are gracing so many breweries nowadays, with a crisp finish. The hefeweizen is a beautiful cloudy gold with notes of banana wafting off the rich head, and a citrusy smooth sip with a sweet finish – PERFECT for the beautiful weather!
They have a huge selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, along with plenty of options for the carnivores out there as well. There were so many options that we couldn’t decide between them. So we got them all.
Maple Fritters – deep fried sweet potato dumplings with a honey mustard dip. These were surprisingly light and crispy, and piping hot to boot. DROOL.
Puffy, golden (I get the theme here, Golden Road!), flaky dumplings of heaven!
We started with a non-vegan dish – the Sloppy Joseph: Short ribs braised in stout and topped with fried shallots and housemade barbecue sauce. I may or may not have licked the plate clean…
Miso Crabby Salad – fresh and light with fresh crab and sliced peppers gracing the top.
For the vegans out there – Coconut “Noodle” Salad: Tender strips of coconut, sliced jalapenos, carrot, chili peppers and cabbage tossed in a light curried sauce with toasted cashews. This burned so good! I wish they’d still had their Festivus Cinnamon Bitter beer on tap to pair! I guess I’ll just have to come back next time they brew it. Bummer again.
Back to the meat! Pulled Pork Sandwich: tender pulled pork that’s been braised in their hef and shredded cabbage on a flaky croissant. I’m stating this here and now – best pulled pork sammich I’ve had to date.
Guess who happened to show up while we were feasting? Cyrena Nouzille and Dave Griffiths of Ladyface Ale! Skipp Shelly, the marketing manager of Golden Road Brewing and a fellow Maltose Falcon from the shop brew also happened to be there – weird coincidence seeing that he works there.
The brewery is right next to the train tracks. I almost had a heart attack when the first one came from behind the building and blasted its horn! I needed to get another beer to calm my nerves.
We enjoyed a good two and a half hours there until the sun went down and the air dropped to a chilly 75 degrees. Delicious beer, amazing food and a wonderful way to end (or begin) the week!
Golden Road Brewing
5430 West San Fernando Road
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Open daily 11am-11pm

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Beer Pairing: Bite Me Chicken Stew

Good afternoon! I’ve decided to start a little series about pairing different styles of beer with food –  partially in preparation for the Cicerone test, and partially because every single type of meal can be brought to another level when combined with the right style of beer. I’ll try to post a new pairing every week and if you have any questions, recommendations or requests, feel free to write them down in the comments!

Yesterday I was feeling a little under the weather and was craving something warm with a spicy “bite”, so I threw a bunch of random foodstuffs from my cupboards into a pot and came up with:

Bite Me Chicken and Brown Rice Stew

Serves 6-8
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 45 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Main Dish, Soup
Wonderfully hearty stew with a spicy bite on the end, balanced by creamy avocado and tangy lime juice.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can diced green chiles (4 ounces)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 box Rice-A-Roni Spanish Brown Rice (Plus half of the spice packet)
  • 2/3 cups frozen or fresh corn
  • 1 avocado (cubed)
  • The juice of one lime

Directions

Step 1
Bring the chicken stock to a boil.
Step 2
Add the green chiles, tomatoes, Rice-A-Roni and 1/2 the spice packet and reduce to a simmer.
Step 3
Let it simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally then add the corn.
Step 4
Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
Step 5
Remove from heat, garnish with avocado and sprinkle with lime juice to taste.

If you’d like, you can even make your own chicken stock for this recipe, which is what I did.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Serves 4-6
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 3 hours
Total time 3 hours, 15 minutes
Meal type Soup
Simple chicken stock to add to any soup.

Ingredients

  • Remnants of a baked chicken, bones and all
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 4 carrots (sliced)
  • 1/2 onion (diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-3 teaspoon flaked red pepper (depending on desire of spice)

Directions

Step 1
Place the chicken in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil.
Step 2
In a pan, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent (about 7 minutes).
Step 3
Add the onion, garlic, carrots, salt, pepper and hot pepper flakes to the pot and let simmer for 1 to 3 hours.
Step 4
Remove the chicken bones, keeping as much meat in as possible and bring stock to a boil.

Continue with the Bite Me Chicken and Brown Rice Stew recipe above.
I decided to pair this wonderfully spicy stew with Uinta’s Cutthroat Pale Ale (I’d recommend either a pale ale or an IPA for this soup). The pale ale has just a hint of a bitter backend to enhance the spicy bite that rounds out the edges of the stew, but enough of a light graininess so as to not compete with the flavors. The caramel malts that grace your palate at the end of the sip brings out the sweetness of the corn and tender chicken. If you want to really suffer (in a good way), pair this with a seriously hoppy IPA like Dogfish Head 90 Minute or another dry pale ale. The hops will make the spice even more pronounced and clear your head of any congestion, guaranteed.

Other pale ale pairing recommendations:
– Fish ‘n chips – crisp hops help to cut through the grease
– Grilled/broiled halibut – dry pale ale doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavors of white fish
– Gumbo – hops bring out the spices while chilling the afterburn at the same time
– Sushi – light flavors in pale ale add a sweet complexity that pairs well with the vinegar-graced sushi rice
– Anything fried, spicy, or seafood of any kind
– Pale ales with higher IBUs are good for dishes like roast beef or pork roasts to bring out the sweetness of the meats

Any other food pairings you’ve tried with pale ale that you’d like to recommend?

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Teru Sushi

Thanks to my cousin Allie, I was treated to a free fancy sushi lunch! Groupons be awesome.
Teru Sushi in Studio City! Complimentary/mandatory valet parking – prepare yourself to give up your keys and two dollars for tip.
This is a fancy place. They give you hot washcloths wrapped in plastic!
The Groupon included edamame, two rolls up to $18 and either free sake or dessert.
Since I was driving, we decided to forgo the sake and settled for green tea. Classy.
The restaurant looks pretty small from the outside, but it extends far back and even includes an outdoor patio. The inside is dimly lit and very cozy.
We decided to get the most out of our deal and got the OMG Roll – spicy tuna with fried onions, topped with albacore and ponzu sauce. Fairly certain I’ll have onion breath for the rest of the week, but it was more than worth it!
Da Bomb – spicy tuna, tempura shrimp and cucumber wrapped in soy paper, topped with avocado, albacore and spicy crab, then drizzled with ponzu sauce. Drool worthy and embarrassing to eat. You basically need to unhinge your jaw in order to fit each piece into your mouth, but it is so worth it. Spicy, crunchy and fresh. Possibly the best sushi roll I’ve ever had!
Since we skipped the sake, we decided on the Teru Dessert. On the menu they said it was a brownie topped with ice cream, but this was actually a chocolate lava cake. Lava cake trumps brownie every time. Even though we were stuffed to the gills and couldn’t finish the sushi rolls, somehow this thing disappeared.

After we waddled out the door and got back in the car, we stopped by Wades Wines to pick up some tasters for the night.
The Alchemist/Ninkasi/Stone’s More Brown Than Black IPA. Beautiful brown color, floral hoppy aroma and a relatively mellow flavor with a touch of bitterness on the end and just a barely-there hint of roasty malts to round it out.

Quite a successful day, if I do say so myself. Now back to draft systems and aroma flashcards!

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Getting Life in Order

I’ve been a little MIA recently, trying to get everything sorted out for the new year. A new planner had to be purchased so I could write down a new schedule and make new to-do lists so everything I put off would actually get done. The past few days have been spent setting a Cicerone daily study schedule and getting my life back in order after the lovely holidays.
All of the Christmas decor at Enegren Brewing had to go. Sniff.
The weather lately has been crazily summer-like! I hiked in eighty degree weather yesterday and was craving iced coffee the entire day. Today it ended up being a bit cooler (about seventy degrees…), so I took advantage of the almost-but-not-quite-or-really-even-close-to-winter weather and made some classic autumn baked goods before the season escapes from my grasp.
Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Spiced Donuts. I used the same recipe from the Blue Eyed Bakers and added a crapload of chocolate chips. The brew boys were hard at work when I arrived with a big bag of donuts in hand, but they found some time to inhale them.

I’ve decided to start my new year with one definite resolution – take one day a week off from my phone and my computer. This means no Untappd check-ins, no perusing Facebook, no updating Twitter and no texting. I’m sure this will be ridiculously difficult/impossible seeing as how dependent I am on my phone supplying me with GPS and a direct link to all my social networks lately.

I’ll also get back to cooking delicious foods and sharing all my beer tastings and different aspects about beer that I learn throughout my Cicerone studies with you. If you have any questions about the process or anything beer/food/life related, I’m more than happy to answer!

Any resolutions you’ve made for the new year?

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