Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chicago! Part 1

After a whirlwind three-day trip to Chicago, I have much to write about; many beverages were consumed, many restaurants were visited and a whole lot of money was spent. It was all in the name of food.

Over the next few days I should find be able to find some time to write more.
For now, here are a few pictures.


Bin 36




Hot Doug's

Hopleaf Bar

the Publican


New York is one of the capitals of the world and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic, San Francisco is a lady, Boston has become Urban Renewal, Philadelphia and Baltimore and Washington wink like dull diamonds in the smog of Eastern Megalopolis, and New Orleans is unremarkable past the French Quarter. Detroit is a one-trade town, Pittsburgh has lost its golden triangle, St. Louis has become the golden arch of the corporation, and nights in Kansas City close early. The oil depletion allowance makes Houston and Dallas naught but checkerboards for this sort of game. But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities.
- Norman Mailer, Miami and the Siege of Chicago, 1968

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday Nights at Bridgid's

While I bartend every Monday night at Tria Washington Square (I know, I've alluded to it, but never admitted to working at Tria), I'm usually done pretty early. This Monday night I was in the Fairmount area for a quick stop at the London Grill.

I decided it might be a good idea to check out Suz at Bridgid's for her Monday night bartending gig. I've never been there before, and she was certainly a reason to go. Yes, there are some bars in Philly I still haven't made it to.

Bridgid's has a very "everyone knows your name" feel to it, and I'm not just saying that because I knew a few people in the room. Their tap list is great; I had a Dogfish Head Palo Santo. Their bottle list is also stellar, with some great seasonal rotating offerings.

Now I know where to go when I get out of work early on Monday's.

Oh, and if anyone knows where this man's hat is, please return it to Bridgid's.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Power of Russian River

This afternoon I stopped by TJ's Everyday for their 4pm tapping of Russian River Consecration and Pliny the Younger.

I arrived at 4:15 because I had gone to the NCAA playoff game between Nova and UCLA at the Wachovia with my Dad.

Pliny the Younger had already kicked; minutes after it was tapped, apparently.

At 4:17 Consecration kicked and people clapped. As Matt from the Beer Yard said: "Why are they clapping? They should be booing." I have to agree.

I was able to sample Consecration, but not Pliny. I had Consecration a few weeks ago, and have a few more bottles in my refrigerator waiting for just the right moment. It is absolutely delicious, and the keg was especially sour.

This event, and the shortness of it, is a testament to the beer geek culture.

To augment a famous movie quote: If you Post it Online, They Will Come.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Philly Beer Week In Review

After finding a few days to catch up on sleep, I’m finally ready to reflect on Philly Beer Week. It was an incredible 10 days. I was thoroughly impressed with the city’s beer drinking culture. People took off work and turned out to events, day after hung over day. Brewer’s from all over the country, and world, agreed that we are a great beer-drinking city. It felt like one big beertopia; sorry Portland, I have to step on your toes.

I’ve accumulated my personal stats. I know that it won’t compare to some of you out there, but I need to set goals for next year.

Bars Visited: 14
Beers Tasted: 45
Brewers met: 11

Best Dish: Pato Verde: Duck Confit, Beer Rice, Fava Beans at Amada

Best Pairing: Dogfish Immort Ale with Praline Foie Gras Torchon and single malt & juniper-maple syrup toast at TND

Best Beer: Russian River Consecration – Thanks Vinnie for getting it out here for Beer Week

Hippiest Brewer: Oscar Blues – Our conversation about Phish and their Hampton shows, while people were one deep at the bar around you (and I was bartending), was awesome.

Best Dressed: Don Feinberg – Beer importer met Ivy League Professor attire

Worst Beer Abomination: Allagash White and Orange Juice – No, and no.

Biggest Surprise: Not going to Monks – I did step foot in their hallway, but decided to avoid the place altogether this week.

Biggest Let Down: Vinnie not coming out for beer week. C’mon, we love you here.

Biggest Personal Let Down: Not seeing my plaid-wearing #1 Brewer crush, Rob Todd – Maybe I’ll see you in April?

Top 10 Philly Beer Week Moments

1. Tapping a Yards Firkin at Tria
2. Proposing to a Philly Beer (Victory Wild Devil) during Beer Geek Finals
3. Eating dinner with Jose Garces
4. Friday the Firkinteenth at the Grey Lodge Pub
5. Shaking Dogfish Head's Sam Calagione’s hand. Okay, fine, I agree he’s cute.
6. Brewer’s Plate – Food and beer paired together; it’s all I need.
7. Asking Don Russell a beer question during the “Stump the Chump” portion of Beer Geek Finals
8. Seeing Suzie Woods nearly everyday of beer week
9. Witnessing any brewer drink beer not their own
10. “Taking a night off” from beer week to eat at Morimoto, only to end up at 3 bars afterwards

After all this, I can't wait until next year...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From Brooklyn to Barcelona: An Evening of Tapas & Beer with Jose Garces and Garrett Oliver

Yesterday, my day was not over after the Dogfish Lunch at Teresa's. Although, it could have been. My friends and I continued on our day to a beer dinner at Amada with Jose Garces and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery.

The format of the dinner was pretty awesome. It was 9 people each, at two tables, with one of the hosts at the head of each table. Half way through the meal, Jose and Garrett switched tables so we could talk to both of them. I've met Garrett before; about two years ago I attended a Tria Fermentation School class on beer and cheese pairings. And, we all know I'm a huge fan of Jose.

Peruvian Ceviche: Corvina, Rocoto Emulsion, Pickled Pearl Onions
Brooklyner Schneider Hopfen Weisse

Jose's ceviches are always on point. They are perfectly balanced and acidic, and the fish is always wonderful tasting. As far as the beer goes, it was a one year old bottle of a collaboration beer between Schneider and Brooklyn. A year ago I wasn't a huge fan of the beer. However, after a year of bottle aging, the hops had mellowed nicely and it showed as a perfect food beer.

Almejas con Jamon Iberico: Clams, Grilled Toast, Mache Salad
Brooklyn Local 1

This dish was also very nice. The sauce itself ended up being a Brooklyn Local 1, Jamon and butter sauce. I had a few sandy clams, but on the whole, the flavors were there. The Brooklyn Local 1, a Belgian Strong Pale Ale, pairs very nicely with food, generally speaking. It doesn't overpower and provides a nice cleansing, refreshing effect.

Pato Verde: Duck Confit, Beer Rice, Fava Beans
Brooklyn Local 2

This dish was the highlight of the dinner. The duck, as you can see, was cooked to perfection. The beer rice, cooked with Brooklyn Local 2, cilantro, and probably some tomatillos, was incredible; the flavors were so developed and rich.

The beer, a just-released Belgian-inspired strong dark ale, was very tasty. I've heard some mixed reviews this week about the beer, but I personally enjoyed it. The Belgian dark candi sugar component is very prominent and it's full of dark fruit flavors. If I were to blind taste it, I would place it somewhere between a double and quad. At 9% ABV it's not quite a quad, but the flavor components are similar to a quad.

Butifarra: House-made Garlic Sausage, Bacon Braised Escarole, Mustard Emulsion
Brooklyn Dark Matter

Moving to a Catalonia dish, this house-made sausage, produced over at Tinto (as Jose said: the guys at Tinto do all the charcuterie), was incredible. It was so flavorful, fennel and garlic were most prominent. The mustard emulsion was a nice addition and who doesn't love bacon added to their bitter greens?

The beer itself, as Garrett said: "Doesn't exist, and you never had it." Well, I'm still going to write about it because it was pretty cool. For Brooklyn's venture into barrel aging (Black Ops), they acquired 9 Woodford Reserve barrels and ended up only needing 6 of them. So, they took Brooklyn Brown Ale and aged it for 9 months in the bourbon barrels. Brewed in July 2007, and refermented in the bottle, this beer is about 1 year 8 months old. The bourbon was very prominent, both on the nose and on the palate. It seemed a rather successful venture. This leads me to believe that a barrel aged series might be in the works.

Hazelnut Mocha: Semi-sweet Chocolate Creameaux, Espresso Granita, Hazelnut Nougatine, Sweet Cream Ice Cream
Brooklyn Black Ops

I'm a big sweets girl, so this dessert was awesome. The hazelnut nougatine might have been the best dessert component (my hopperdoodle aside), that I've had in a while. The espresso granita was somewhat lost in the mocha creameux, but it was still a wholly delicious dessert.

The beer, a new and hard to find release (940 cases released), is a Russian Imperial Stout aged in Woodford Reserve barrels for about 4 months. It was similar to the Dark Matter, however it was stronger in alcohol. Again, the bourbon was very prominent, and more so than in the Dark Matter. This is likely because Black Ops is much younger; it was only brewed in June.

Overall, this dinner was very, very cool. I actually was able to talk to Jose Garces! Yup, the foodie in me is giddy! Having met Garrett before, I was really excited to meet Jose. I adore his food, as you may have gathered, and he was a genuinely nice guy. Amada holds a special place in my foodie heart; it was the first chef's tasting menu I ever had. I have to especially thank Amada for hosting the dinner.

After two 5 course meals in one day, I was certainly ready for bed...and yet, ready for beer week to continue...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dogfish Tasty Tuesday Lunch at Teresa's Next Door

As beer week rolls on, I was finally able to enjoy a day of beer events not involving work. I planned my double header of events about a month ago, and each was awesome in their own way.

During the first half of my day I had the pleasure of attending the Dogfish Head lunch with Sam Calagione at Teresa's Next Door. Apparently beer geeks are very willing to take off work to attended a beer luncheon with ex-Calvin Klein model Sam and his crazy high-alcohol brews.

The kitchen at Teresa's Next Door, ever irreverent, creative, and delicious, set the tone for the lunch right on their menu: "Wacky brews paired with off-centered food."

We began with Dogfish Aprihop paired with a "Snack" plate of Deviled Quail Eggs, Tomato-Carrot Soup and Gruyere Toast. The quail egg was deliciously cute and adorable; the addition of whole grain mustard in the yoke mixture added the perfect zing.

Next Dogfish Immort Ale, a beer brewed with peat-smoked barley, organic juniper berries, vanilla & maple syrup and aged on oak and fermented with a blend of English & Belgian yeasts, was paired with a Praline Foie Gras Torchon and single malt & juniper-maple syrup toast. All I have to say is Foie Candy. Melt in your mouth candy. This course was by far my favorite. What other beer dinner have you been to with foie? Really?! It actually paired well with the Immort Ale, as the juniper berries, vanilla and maple syrup, in both the beer and the dish, mirrored one another.

Third course brought Dogfish Pangaea paired with a Baby Arugula, Blood Orange, Ginger-Roasted Beet Salad with lavender-candied fennel, and a hop-malt vinaigrette. Pangaea, brewed with an ingredient from every continent is especially heavy on the crystallized ginger from Australia. The ginger flavor in the beer paired well with the lightly gingered beets. Additionally, the acidity of the blood oranges balanced nicely with the sweetness in the lavender fennel.

Fourth course was a TND original, Dogfish Black and Blue paired with Porelkbit. Yes, pork, elk and rabbit all in one carnivorous feast. Technically, it is a roulade of rabbit loin wrapped in pork tenderloin, wrapped in elk loin, all wrapped in speck. Served with "barlotto," (beer barley risotto) and a blackberry and blueberry demi-glace, this dish paired nicely with the Black and Blue, a Belgian-style strong ale fermented with blackberries and blueberries.

Beginning our three dessert courses was the '06 Fort Sorbet with bourbon-vanilla gelato and a Hopperdoodle crisp made by yours truly. Baking with green hop butter sure was interesting...two batches later. The sorbet itself was created with bottles of '06 Fort, and let's just say that after being cooked down, the 18% ABV was still evident.

Next Dogfish Red and White was paired with a double trio of House-made Fruity Salumi and Cheese. The three salumis, apricot-almond, cherry-pistachio, and fig-walnut were paired with Prima Donna, La Tur and Bleu de Basque. I'm a huge fan of the salumis, the fig-walnut being my favorite. The Red and White, a belgian-style Wit brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with Pinot Noir juice, and then aged in Pinot Noir barrels and on oak staves, was drinking very nicely. Though, like a good wine, it could certainly age longer.

Finally, Dogfish Palo Santo Marron was paired with a Hop Snack Plate. The plate included a hop brownie, pine-nut hop brittle, and a hopmellow. You have to love the creativity on this one. Who knew hops could also be part of delicious desserts? The Palo Santo Marron, a brown ale aged in handmade Paraguayan Palo Santo wooden tanks, was a nice 12% ABV port-like finish to the meal.

All in all, it was perhaps the best beer pairing event I've attended. The food was very, very well thought out and creative. While these beers were all high in alcohol and flavor, they did not overpower the food. Neither the beer, nor the food took center stage. It was rather the epitome of complementary pairings; wacky beer met wacky food...and it was delicious.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Philly Beer Geek Finalist!

For those of you following along at home...

I've made it to the Philly Beer Geek finals!
Next week, 6 finalists will compete on Thursday night at the Manayunk Brewpub at 8pm.

You can check out the celebrity-judge's wrap ups: Lew Bryson and the Beer Lass. Thanks to both for their support :)

It was a tough competition. Some real beer geeks turned out. I believe it was my poem that clinched it for me:

One beer
Two beer
Red beer
Blue beer

Black beer
Blue beer
Old beer
New beer

Yes. Some are red. And some are blue.
Some are old. And some are new.

Oh me! Oh my!
Oh me! Oh my!
What a lot
Of funny beers go by.

Some have two malts
And some have four.
Some have six hops
And some have more.

Where do they come from? I can’t say.
But I bet they have come
A long, long way.

Some are funky.
And some are bretty.
Some are strong.
And some are low.

Not one of them
Is like another.
Don’t ask us why.
Go ask Lew Bryson.

And now
Good night.
It is time to drink.
So we will drink all through Philly beer week.

Speaking of Philly Beer Week, this evening I'll be at work.

But beer week will be coming to me. You can "Meet the Brewer," Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing Company, at Tria Washington Square from 5-6pm.
Special pricing of beer and cheese 4-7pm.

Cheers! Let the festivities begin!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Philly Beer Geek Competition

I don't have to say it, we all know what the next 10 days hold...
Yes, a week so important, it needs 10 days: Philly Beer Week.

Well, to begin my celebration of Philly Beer Week I'll be competing in the Philly Beer Geek Competition.

Yes, I am a big beer geek and yes, I want to be crowned the biggest beer geek in Philly.

Last week I qualified at The Institute for the semi-final round tomorrow night.

Who know that memorizing the year the reinheitsgebot was adopted in would pay off?

I realize it's a long shot, this being the #1 beer drinking city in the country and all. But I'll be competing tomorrow night at the Manayunk Brewpub for 6 spots in the finals during Beer Week.

Here's the info for tomorrow, just in case anyone out there wants to support Femme Fermental:

Thursday, March 5, 2009 – SEMI-FINALS COMPETITION NIGHT!

Philly Beer Geek Finals Competition 2009

  • Finals Competition Time: 8:00-10:00 p.m.
  • Beer Music!!!
  • Place: Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, 4120 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127 Ph: 215-482-8220
  • No Cover Charge!
  • Judges: Dr. Joel Armato, Lew Bryson, Suzanne Woods, Scoats, Larry Horwitz
Wish me luck!!