Pleasant surprises

July 10, 2011

I wasn’t surprised that the barbecue  was top-notch at Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue when we stopped by for dinner in a relatively unplanned trip to Kansas City this weekend. I’d heard good things about it and we were not disappointed. The service and food were both great at the Martin City location we hit for a little chow.

What surprised me was the waitress’s response to the, “What do you have for beer?” I tossed her as we sat down on the patio to await a table.

What she said:

“We have Boulevard Wheat, Boulevard Dry Stout, Boulevard Pale Ale, Boulevard _______ .”

(fill in a coupla blanks–I forget what all she said. And then, as if an afterthought:

“And we have Bud, Bud Light and _________.”

All too often the wait-staff lists the beers with the craft beer relegated to the role of “afterthought.” So I was impressed that this joint had its priorities straight–showcasing solid, local beers alongside its tasty victuals. I went for the stout, which was primo. From Boulevard, it seems to me, their Bully! Porter gets all the attention, but if I have a choice of the two, I go for the Dry Stout any day of the week. It’s solid–and great with the ‘cue.

Cheers, Jack Stack! I’m a fan.



Beer pairings for regular folks, Part 5

July 1, 2011

Michelle refused to eat this one, but boy did it bring back memories of my youth.

A simple, two ingredient affair, Beanie Weanies is a Midwestern classic, and one of two or three dishes that my mom cycled through our dinner table on a regular basis when I was a kid. It’s a bit slick and fatty feeling in the mouth, so I paired it with something to scrape the palate clean while bringing in malt and hop booms with an alcohol kick.

A bottle of Boundary Bay‘s Old Bounder Barley Wine, a gift from BB assistant brewer Anthony Stone and delivered to me by his kind mother-in-law, who lives in my midst. Yes, the beer world is small, and I am very thankful for both Anthony and Mrs. Ekdahl.

The barley wine absolutely did the trick, cutting through the fat and oddly complimenting this “dish,” while adding the hop bang so lacking in both beans and hot dogs.

Dead serious. Give it a try…

Beer pairings for regular folks, Part 4

June 27, 2011

Making college noodles dreamy

So this one starts with a collegiate classic: your basic bowl of Ramen noodles. But before I add beer, I kick it up a notch with one of the only condiments that matters: Sriracha Hot Sauce. It makes everything kick a new brand of ass. Toss some on your 10-cent noodles next time and see if you don’t agree.

Then, add an IPA. I’m tossing back a Single-Wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City. Highly recommended, with or without Ramen noodles.

Groovy hot-spank/hop spank combo that I find lovely.

Man, I wish I could do college all over again…

Adam turns pro

June 13, 2011
[This is the fourteenth installment of an ongoing series by Adam Draeger,  an experienced homebrewer and engineer transitioning to the world of professional brewing through coursework at the Siebel Institute of Brewing Technology–this is the end of the road–Adam got a job! ]
After moving out to greater-Denver and settling in, every day for the first few days I was putting 200 miles on my vehicle dropping off resumes and business cards (I use the term “business cards” loosely since I bought some custom rubber stamps and blank coasters to craft my cards–pictured right)
and visited:
Left Hand
Oskar Blues
Mountain Sun
Boulder Brewing
Southern Sun
Great Divide
Rock Bottom
Golden City
Fort Collins Brewing
New Belgium
Bull and Bush
Gordon Birsch
BJ’s restaurant
Asher Brewing
Denver Chophouse
Pints Pub
Del Norte
Dry Dock
Twisted Pine
Yak and Yeti
and the Brewer’s Association HQ (for networking purposes)Even though I was willing to volunteer a day or two, most places weren’t giving me the time of day or returning emails/phone calls, etc.
(a shout out to TommyknockerDel NorteFunkwerks and the BA for letting me job shadow/intern) There were several days that I was so frustrated that I considered flushing my degree down the toilet and going back into engineering.

Well, the fact of the matter is I visited the KROC homebrewing club and these great guys and gals gave me a couple job leads. One lead was that Chris Kennedy at Yak and Yeti Brewpub was leaving (he is the new head brewer for Jamil Zainasheff at Heretic Brewing)…I smothered Chris with confidence and convinced him that he only needed to show me how to brew once, transfer beer once, answer a few questions like how to fill out the alcohol tax form and I’d be good to go…I got the job.Meet the new head brewer for the Yak and Yeti in Arvada, CO.

A little info about the Yak:  The Yak and Yeti is an Indian and Nepalese restaurant that has been around since 2001 in Westminster.  Their food is apparently the best around (I can confirm this after having eaten there now).  They became sucessful enough after six years to open a second restaurant.  Dol (the Yak’s founder) purchased the old English-style “Cheshire Cat Brewpub” which is located in a 1864 old house in old-town Arvada.  Chris has been brewing on this 7-barrel system, made from mostly old dairy equipment, for almost three years supplying beer for both restaurants (Coincidentally, the CC Brewpub was also in operation since 2001 before ownership changed).
Currently this is only a part-time head brewer position due to the low volume of beer sales, but I’m optimistically going to put some hard work into increasing sales.   I’ve already brewed a batch with Chrs and transfered cellared beer several times by myself.  The other exciting opportunity from this job is the GABF this fall.  Since Chris won a gold medal for the Himalayan IPA last year, the owner wants to me submit beers again.  So my first time attending the GABF and I’ll be pouring my hand-crafted beer at the nation’s largest beer festival.  Who would have imagined?!
The first question that most of the locals ask me is “what do you like to brew?” or “what can we expect for beers?”  I can say for the first round, I’ll probably just brew Chris’s four main recipes (IPA, Chai Stout, Pils and Red ale) once and then add a 5th rotating seasonal, most likely a wheat bier.   Since this was an English brewpub, there are still four hand pulls in place for cask beer and room for eight other beers on tap, so plentyof room to grow.  Although, I will have some new friendly competition because just a few blocks away the Arvada Beer Company will be opening its doors in about a month, I’m hoping we can plug each others’ beersand both come out ahead as now Denverites have a beer reason to come to our suburb.
If you want more info on the Yak, you’ll have to google it yourself, or start with these  (excuse the primitive website, I’m not the webguy, but here you can find a news video clip about the brewpub being haunted!)
or you can read a little more about the house’s history here:
I’ll be using “turtleweiss at gmail dot com”  as my professional brewing email address in case anybody asks.
Well, enough yakking from me.  If you ever make it out to Denver or plan to attend the GABF, stop by and try my beers sometime…
Adam Draeger

Beer pairings for regular folks, Part 3

May 31, 2011

Never in my life have I made tater tot casserole, but as I scoured my brain for lame food ideas, this Midwestern classic emerged as a perfect meal for not only this series, but also a wonderful pairing for the homebrewed Belgian Golden Strong I planned to crack open.

Success! While the dish’s only element of intrigue was the flashback to bad lunchroom food as a kid, the golden strong did a good job of cutting through the palpable fat and cholesterol-building disgusting-ness. The alcohol brightened the mouth and fought off some of that goofy tater tot flavor.

Interestingly, as I searched for “just the right recipe,” I was distracted by a Midwestern church cookbook’s (great place for lame recipes) Potato Weiner Bake. I was tempted to go there, but you know, it wouldn’t have worked with the Belgian Golden Strong quite as well…

Beer pairings for regular folks, Part 2

May 19, 2011

[an occasional series on how “regular folks” can integrate craft beer into their “culinary” endeavors]

My mom was a lousy cook when I was growing up.

She’s better now, but one of the few “dishes” I could look forward to as a kid included the less-than-ambitious grilled cheese sandwich with canned tomato soup on the side. Nowadays, I funkify this dish with alt-cheeses that work well with saisons and double IPAs, but the old school version remains a sentimental favorite and is one of the few uses I have for ketchup. Though I’m liable to throw pan-seared cabbage or grilled asparagus on the side, I find guilty pleasure in the occasional use of lame, processed American cheese slices.

This week, I paired this simple plate of food with a Belgian wheat, which massaged the cheese in a soft and yummy way. A Vienna lager would work nicely to complement the toasty bits of this simple sandwich.

Give ’em a try!

Beastie Burger

May 9, 2011

With the fast in the past, Jake, Tom and I have set our sights on bigger and better burgers this summer. This weekend revealed our Beastie Burger, which features a medium-rare burger with chipotles, special spices, homegrown bacon, barbeque sauce, cheese, tomato, onion and topped with an egg. You would like it.