Saturday, October 20, 2012

Crowdsourcing a new brewery co-op in New Orleans!

Aaron Hyde, owner of New Orleans' only homebrew store, Brewstock, has a dream. A dream that Tom and I definitely share. A dream of creating a brewing cooperative that the entire beer community of New Orleans can participate in and benefit from. 

I urge you to take a look at what Aaron is envisioning and perhaps make a donation at his Indigogo fundraising page. I hope that he can raise $55,000 in 12 days, but he needs YOUR help to make it happen!

When Tom and I moved to New Orleans, one of the reasons was that the beer culture here seemed to be poised on the edge of greatness. It has one fantastic beer bar, one amazing brewery, many passionate supporters, restaurants that are improving their beer lists, all that. We wanted to be a part of that. We are still trying to find our way. If money were no object, I'd love to open another beer bar, maybe on the other side of Canal. If we were 20 years younger, then trying to open a brewery or find work at one would be our goal. I've been toying with the idea of making a "craft beer pop up" a viable thing, as well as working with restaurants on their beer lists, beer pairings, and marketing to beer lovers.  However,  as we are both employed full time, old and feeble, and broke, we haven't had the opportunity to really pursue any of our wild dreams.

That's why, when I woke up this morning and saw Aaron's call to US, to the beer and brewing community of New Orleans, I was ecstatic!

In Aaron's own words:
This will be a creative outlet for the brewing community in New Orleans. For homebrewers wanting to learn commercial brewing techniques, for college students who want to get started in the brewing business (marketing, advertising, legal, etc..) and for all other folks who'd like to dabble in the process. We hope to allow for brewing and business creativity all along the way. As always, community first (but lawyers and accountants close behind.)
I know this brewery will be a centerpiece of the New Orleans community, and look forward to not only sharing the brewery with those interested in beer, but sharing the beer with the world. Food and drink is a major part of life in Louisiana, and as more folks begin to drink craft beer, we think they should be looking for it locally first.

I want to build community around the brewery.
Check out his fundraising page, read for yourself, and make an investment in the future of beer and brewing in New Orleans!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Beer in the Bay Area

So, obviously, a significant part of any trip I take is about the beers I can find and drink that I can't get here at home.  Therefore, I report here, the tales of my San Francisco beer adventure!

First night in the Bay area, we were in Redwood City, south of SF. We went to an English/Scottish gastropub type place called Martins West, which had a very nice selection of beers on draft. I started with an Evil Twin by Heretic Brewing, which was fantastic. Such a well balanced beer.

 Had a Honey Saison from Almanac Beer Co., out of San Francisco. I had a sample before committing- but I was impressed. It's a very nice saison, the yeast, hops, spices, and honey balanced nicely. I recommended it to someone sitting next to me, who dismissed it as "something girls drink" and therefore I needed to hold forth and lecture about what girls ACTUALLY DRINK. Which is to say, everything.

The next day I enjoyed a Scrimshaw Pilsner with my oysters at the Ferry Building (I'd recommended it to the guy at the bar as a really good pilsner the night before, so it was fresh in my mind) which was a very pleasant pairing. Also at the Ferry Building, I found a wine store that had a lovely beer selection, including a selection of Russian River beer, which made me so happy to see.

A little later, at Pier 23, I had a Big Daddy IPA from Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, also out of San Francisco. It was a glorious day for a fresh, local, delicious beer:

 We watched the Blue Angels do their thing, and I also enjoyed a Lagunitas Czech Pils and a Fat Tire by New Belgium. Later I checked out the oldest bar in San Francisco, The Saloon, drank some bottles of Anchor Steam and had a a shot of Fernet, and danced to the live blues/jazz action they had going on. That was a fun place. The end of the evening brought me to The Boardroom, a great bar in North Beach, where I tried a Hell or High Watermelon Ale by 21st Amendment Brewery (another San Francisco brewery). It was pretty easy drinking and not super sweet or cloying. It was the end of a long day of walking and drinking, though, so my thirst may have been easily quaffed.

I ended my night back at my host's home in Redwood City with a beautiful and amazing wild ale from Russian River, Supplication:

Note: that's my chocolate shake from In-N-Out burger in the background
The next day was a special day- my pilgrimage to the Toronado. I arrived about 10 minutes before it opened at 11:30.

Once there, I took a look at the beer board:

You can't see in this picture, but all the way to the right is their selection of hand pump ales. I selected the Twist of Fate Bitter from Moonlight Brewing Company out of Santa Rosa. A locally brewed bitter style, served on cask? Yes please!

I next tried Boulder Beer Company's Freshtracks Wet-hopped Singletrack. Very nice. My third beer was very special though, Brouwerij Bockor's CuvĂ©e Des Jacobins Rouge, an excellent example of a Flanders Red Ale. My last beer at the Toronado (before I had to leave to go to the airport, sniff!) was a classic- Russian River Pliny the Elder. Before I left, however, I purchased a hoodie and struck a conversation up with the owner about the Toronado 25th Anniversary ale brewed by Russian River for them. They had no bottles for sale, but did have a 3 liter bottle that they're saving for a special occasion. He brought it out for a photo opp:

The Toronado is my happy place!

I was struck by how many small local breweries were in the area, in San Francisco proper, even. It would be great if New Orleans were more hospitable to developing more breweries within the parish limits.

Next time I go, I'll be bringing my beer suitcase with me. Didn't have the opportunity to do that for this trip, but there's always next time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A month?!?!?

Wow, it's been a month since I updated? Crazy. It's been kind of a weird month. Hurricane recovery, birthdays, broken husband...  you better believe I've been drinking. Heavily.

I kid! (Kinda.) Beer occurrences of note: NOLA Brewing released a new beer, the first in their new high-gravity series, Mecha Hopzilla. It's a pretty tasty beer- well balanced and quite hoppy. It's not really my wheelhouse, but I liked it. I think I like Hopitoulas better, which is good news too, because it'll be coming out in 16 ounce cans soon!

In new beers in New Orleans news: Goose Island (from Chicago) has come to town! Right now it's just the three "Vintage Ales" - the Sofie, Matilda, and Pere Jacques.

Sofie, looking gawjuss in the Goose Island goblet
 I loved the Matilda, the Belgian style pale ale. Subtle, balanced, delicious. Sofie was pretty good, a light colored Belgian farmhouse ale- it was a little... insubstantial, maybe? Just didn't seem to live up to its promise. Perhaps a bit too subtle to my palate. The Pere Jacques was my least favorite of the three- overwhelmingly malty and heavy. The maltiness led to a dark sweetness that I didn't enjoy too much. I wonder if it should be aged some?

Also new to the market: Clown Shoes, contract brewed out of Mercury Brewing in Ipswich (our old stomping grounds!) Had a couple nice versions of their IPAs - Miracle IPA, which they call sessionable at 5.5% - y'all know I don't agree with that - and the Supa Hero, an 8% IPA that was nicely balanced and pretty good. I enjoyed them, for sure. Another new brewery on the New Orleans scene is Brash brewing, which I haven't had a chance to try yet. They're also brewing up in Ipswich, so way to go, Mercury with your crazy contract brewing ways!

The most important event of the month of COURSE is the Beer Bitch's birthday! It was pretty low key, but I had a couple nice beers during the festivities, such as they were:

Also, I went to SoBou, where, OK, I drank cocktails but I sat at this awesome beer table!

And before my birthday and before my husband broke his arm and two ribs, we went up to the North Shore (across Lake Pontchartrain! Exotic and new!) and among other things, spent a few hours at the Barley Oak, right on the lake.

View from the Barley Oak's balcony

A crazy British beer I tried
I also tasted some amazing beers at a bottle share I attended a couple weeks ago with a few dozen very cool local beer nerds (some I knew, some I didn't.) Let's see, some of the highlights were:

I know I missed a TON of awesome beers (this is also by no means an exclusive list of what I tried) because I could only stay for about an hour and a half, due to dinner plans. It was lots of fun and LOTS of great beer.

So that's what's been happening, beerwise. Been a long month... will try not to go a whole month between updates again! That's pretty bad of me.