Saturday, September 29, 2007

Craft Beers and the Upcoming Holidays

Hey -- it's OK to drink beer with traditional holiday food.

You just have to know the right pairings.

The Brewers Association offers these suggestions at its holiday beer site,

Traditional Roast Turkey: The roasted and caramelized skin matches well with amber ale, a strong golden ale or an amber lager in the Vienna style.

Smoked Turkey: If your local brewery offers a smoked beer, that can serve as a complement to smoked turkey as well. Look for a porter, Scotch ale or amber ale in the smoked style.

Cajun Turkey: Celebrated beer writer and New Mexico resident Stan Hieronymus suggests a malty IPA to go with his favorite
Cajun turkey recipe. For a malty alternative that will stand up to the heat, try a dark bock or strong Scotch ale.

Ham: Like the fruit and cloves often used to prepare ham, the fruity, clove notes in weizen or the stronger weizenbock compliment ham at the dinner table.

Duck: The darker meat of duck offers a richer flavor than turkey and can stand up to a richer beer as well. Here a Belgian-inspired dubbel or a hearty Oktoberfest lager would go well.

Goose: Here too a richer beer than you would choose for turkey is in order. A Belgian-style triple or biere de garde would work well or maybe a bock or Scotch ale.

Salmon: A dunkel lager or Scottish ale can offer a clean toasted malt note to offset the firm flavors of salmon without a lot of bitterness that would overwhelm the fish. Other options would include a mild ale or steam beer.

Leg of Lamb: Pale ales provide a pleasant foil to lamb with spicy or herbal character to compliment the character of the meat along with some toasted malt notes. Or for more harmony with the roasted flavors of the meat, try a hoppy brown ale or porter.

Beef Tenderloin: This rich hearty cut of meat deserves a robust beer as a counterpoint but also calls for some contrast to clear the palate between bites. The ideal companion would seem to be an IPA or Imperial IPA. Other options might include a tripel or old ale.

Source: Brewers Association

Friday, September 28, 2007

Big-name Oktoberfests

You should be able to see a poll on Oktoberfest brews to the right.

I recently picked up Samuel Adams Octoberfest, which they spell with a "c" instead of a "k," and Michelob Marzen, which is an "Octoberfest Style Beer."

Dare I say it? I mean, last year, I totally chose Samuel Adams Octoberfest over Beck's Oktoberfest. But this year, I liked Michelob Marzen quite a bit. I'm not prepared to say it's better than Samuel Adams Octoberfest, but it might -- just might -- be as good.

Fortunately, you can't really go wrong with these three. Fact is, the Michelob Marzen is "worth a try," and the other two are a "good call," at .

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Oktoberfest brews rule in Myrtle Beach area

Apparently, in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area, most beer-drinkers love autumn.

Brewers at long-standing local breweries, including New South Brewing Co. and Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery, say their Oktoberfests are their best-selling seasonal beers.

Josh Quigley hopes to join the mix. He will unleash a high-gravity Oktoberfest brew Friday (Sept. 14) at his restaurant-brewery, Quigley's Plate and Pint in Pawleys Island.Quigley describes it as a "malty amber lager," smooth and slightly sweet, with about 7.5 percent alcohol by volume. (He also recently unveiled his Black River Stout, which he called a "typical dry Irish stout.")

New South's Oktoberfest gets double exposure. The hybrid of traditional Oktoberfest and American amber lager has about 5-6 percent alcohol, owner-brewer Dave Epstein said. He usually has a New South seasonal and a separate seasonal for T-Bonz Gill & Grille, for which he crafts signature beers. In the case of Oktoberfest, which Epstein and T-Bonz folks both say is their best selling seasonal, it's the same brew for both outlets.

In recent years, this would be the week Oktoberfest would show up at T-Bonz, Epstein said. This year, New South rolled out a special T-Bonz brew called Bitter Bonz Extra Special Bitter (ESB) between summer's Blonde Bombshell and autumn's Oktoberfest.

T-Bonz's folks expect Bitter Bonz to last right about until Oktoberfest goes on sale at T-Bonz locations on Sept. 20. Meanwhile, New South has already shipped a few kegs of Oktoberfest to local bars, Epstein said.

Epstein said New South might use Bitter Bonz as the basis for this year's winter seasonal at T-Bonz. He wanted to get Bitter Bonz, at 8 percent alcohol, out this summer following changes in state law that allowed more alcohol content in beer. Bitter Bonz has "gone over really well," he said. I'm not surprised. It reminded me of the outstanding English import Fuller's ESB, the original ESB.

Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery, at Broadway at the Beach, will have its Oktoberfest on tap Sept. 28, brewmeister Eric Lamb said. The amber lager, about 7 percent alcohol, is his best selling seasonal.

The late September tapping introduces a month-long Oktoberfest celebration. Each Saturday in October, Liberty will have Hans Schmidt's German Band performing (times vary, so call 626-4677 for the schedule on your preferred weekend). The big weekend Oktoberfest blow-out will be Oct. 19-21, when Liberty will feature a special menu and possibly some beer specials - still developing - along with extra performances by Hans Schmidt's German Band.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Duck-Rabbit Brewery on Crafting Beer

You've got to love the way the folks at The Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery describe their beer-crafting process:

"When we brew, we’re happy and we dance. During fermentation, we sing softly to the yeast."

Love it!

Check out The Duck-Rabbit.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Our Kind of Girl

Photo from Tractor Brewing Co.

Tractor Sod Buster Pale Ale

I tried this one last month in the Albuquerque airport, at the Route 66 Microbrewery. Tractor Brewing Co. is primarily a regional microbrewery, with a little distribution beyond New Mexico.

Tractor Brewing Co.'s Web site says its Sod Buster Pale Ale is "
Rich and complex in malty sweetness, yet loaded with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest." Of course, I read that a good while after I had tried it. Here are my notes from my tasting:

"Is this supposed to be an India pale ale? If so it is not over-hopped. A light golden color, like a cloudy but light honey. Light-to-medium in body. A very muted citrus flavor. A finish that has just a tap of the good kind of bitter you find in beers."

I liked it.

Learn more about Tractor Brewing Co. at