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!"



Friek in three words

June 2, 2011

A long overdue 3-word beer review, I sat down with a bottle of Odell’s Friek this week. In short, here’s what I got from the cool-labeled, cherry-and-raspberry, oak-aged lambic:

1. balanced-frambo/krieky-fruitaliciousness

2. flavaromadelic-wooden-acid-love-with-rosy-hues-of beauty

3. undercarbonated

I shoved that frieking beer into that goblet, but as you can see, it is flatter than a pancake. It’s my only complaint for this yummy beer and the only Odellian misstep I’ve encountered. Effing great brewery. Though this beer is flat, it doesn’t fall flat. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

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…

Son of a beer geek

May 26, 2011

Our house is awash with bright ideas, dreams, wish lists, sketches, plans and more. So there was no need to be surprised when Jake (age 14) piped up with: “If I had a brewery, I’d brew a Dry British Wit.”

Born the month I brewed my first batch of beer, he has the vision of a homebrewer. He’s nowhere near old enough to drink, and he’s already blending and inventing styles, and pairing them with clever names.

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.

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!

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!