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 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…

And a pitcher to go

June 23, 2011

I prolly won’t be drinking sloe gin fizzes, but come August (19-21), I’m heading to Portland for the Second Annual Beer Bloggers Conference.

Due to the popularity of my little side project (did I mention I’ve signed a book deal and we’re shooting for a late October release?), I’ve been asked to speak this year on kicking up creativity a notch or two. This invite is more than a little humbling, as King of Amazingness Beer Legend Fred Eckhardt is also on the bill.

The conference was informational and a lot of fun last year in Boulder, and I’m glad to be going back. I’ve been–live in–brewvana, but I’ve never been to beervana, so I’m very much looking forward to the trip, the beer sippings and whatever else may go down.

Portland, of course, brings to mind Jack White and Loretta Lynn, so I thought I’d share this video to get you in the mood:

I’m flying out a couple of days early to check out Brother Matt and miscellaneous other good stuff. Stay tuned…

Cheers, all! Hope to see you there!

Son of a beer geek, Part 2

June 10, 2011

Tom and I headed to Extreme Images by Ashley today.

I needed an “author photo” for this book situation. In an effort to document the entire monk project, his job was to capture the behind-the-scenes, special features stuff. So the 12-year-old, budding Spielberg shot stills of the photo shoot for posterity. The flash was turned off on my camera phone, which is what he was using, so they’re all a bit blurry, but fun nonetheless.

However, I couldn’t help but notice that in the shot above, Ashley’s bum was in perfectly good focus, while I was a bit blurry. Surely, that’s a coincidence.

A few more, below…

What's wrong with this picture?

Yes, I still drink doppelbock.

Say, "Whiskey!"


Iowa Craft Brew Festival launches

May 23, 2011

The inaugural Iowa Craft Brew Festival, pulled together by the good folks at the Iowa Brewers Guild, launched May 21 with a sold out crowd, great weather and loads of tasty beer.

As I spent most of my time pouring (my beer!) at the Rock Bottom booth, I wouldn’t be in the perfect position to offer a critique from a festival-goer’s perspective. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and I know that the brewers were enjoying fraternizing with their kin–and sampling each others’ wares.

My guess is that the space was maxed out and that we could have used a few more portapotties, and that there is nothing but a bright and growing future for both this event and the Iowa brewing scene.

Many of the 20-ish Iowa brewers participated in a joint aging of beers in Templeton Rye barrels, and several of the beers I tried were phenomenal (honestly, I didn’t get around to trying many). Other standouts from my limited tasting perspective were Backpocket Brewing’s lager-licious-ness and Rock Bottom’s Matador, an (if I remember this right) impy schwarz with chilis, cocoa nibs, piconcillo sugar and cinnamon aged in a Buffalo Trace barrel.

Good times, good times. I’ll let a few photos speak the other thousands of words. Hope to see you there next year…

Eric pouring at the Rock Bottom booth.

Jacob from Backpocket (use to be Einfach).

The calm before the storm at Peace Tree's funkadelic pouring station.

Yoga for the beer geek: kidney, liver maintenance

May 11, 2011

I’m not saying it’s a miracle cure or anything. It’s just that certain yoga poses are known to carry benefits of this or that kind.

Since Wonderful Beer Wife is a yoga instructor, I tapped her asana-licious expertise to aid in the recovery from my now well-documented 46 days of liquid bread and water–knowing good and well that I’ve been beating up on these two precious organs.

And so it came to be that in addition to chowing liver- and kidney-friendly foods like cabbage and broccoli, I’ve done quite a lot of yoga of late.

Normally, my yoga is confined to bending my elbow, but Michelle designed me a yin practice designed to massage my alc-abused organs and get back on track. Since beer festival season is upon us, I thought I’d share this regime, which one can complete to great benefit in 45 minutes or less. The key here is simple poses targeting connective tissues rather than muscles.

Hold them for three minutes each, which is boring yet important in an easy yet length-induced difficult style of yoga. These specific poses were selected to target not only the connective tissues but also the liver and kidneys–a double-duty of sorts.

1. Reclining Butterfly (use a pillow or bolster under your back, which is more visible in the photo for pose #2)

2. Reclining Hero (you may want an extra pillow at the bend of your knees for comfort–this one sucks, to be honest)

3. Sphinx

4. Half Dragonfly (do this on both sides)

5. Reclining Twist (do this on both sides)

6. Happy Baby

7. Child’s Pose

8. Savasana (hang here for as long as you want to lock in the goody of the previous poses and relax the body–your body temp will drop, so get comfy–you might even want a light blanket to stay warm. Feel free to take a nap–sometimes it just happens, especially when you have the Yoga Girl talking you through a deep relaxation [which you could prolly find online, as well]).

I don’t listen to the same kind of soothing music that Michelle does, so rather than “Michelle’s stuff,” I’ve flirted with the likes of Paul Simon, Pink Floyd and bossa nova to accompany my yoga practice. Bossa nova, especially my buddy Stan Getz, is my favorite. Give it a shot and maintain your organs in style. Cheers!

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.