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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oh the things that pair with Beer...

I finally ventured to Magnolia Pub and Brewery on Super Bowl Sunday. That was when I got to finally punch a few beers off on my punch card. We had just come from brunch at Camino and Paul indulged me with a little beer drinking. I started with their Delilah Jones Rye, aged in 18 year old Sazerac Rye Whiskey Barrels. It definitely has this thickness to it's spice and caramel taste and was certainly strong enough to cover Round 1, clocking in at 10.2% ABV. Next up, was Magnolia's Old Thunderpussy Barleywine (11.2% ABV) made with all English ingredients and "is built around a big, bold Maris Otter taste accented by East Kent Goldings hops." Here, you can taste the caramel but also the molasses and it has this dark fruitiness to it as well. I paired it with some Spanish Chorizo and some Mahon Reserva Cheese, which worked out well. After ordering a 1/2 dozen oysters, I tried my final STRONG BEER of the day, Smokestack Imperial Stout. It's a roasty Russian Stout that really has the holy smell of alcohol, clocking in at 10.2% ABV. It is smooth and malty and tastes mildly bitter but also has this toffee aftertaste to it. I liked it alot. It was a great first stab at what Magnolia was doing for the celebration.

Monday night (Feb. 8) was Sierra Nevada Night at Pi Bar and I asked my friend Angie to gather me up there before we headed to the Warrior game. Who knew I would get to experience all 5 brews they were serving up. I even convinced Jen (owner) to let me sample all of the sausages Richie (another owner) has made just for the occasion. As I ordered the solid, well balanced and tasty Wet hop Harvest, I got to talking with a gentleman sitting next to me at the bar. I knew he worked for the company because he wore a logo shirt, but I came to find out that he was actually the Brewery Ambassador, Steve Grossman. He and his brother Ken started Sierra years back after making beer in their basement growing up. What a gracious man he was as we discussed my obsession with food and beer. I went through their Porter which was very dark and rich and delicious as I continued to nosh on some yummy Calabrese. I also tasted the Hoppwurst, the Andouille and the Boudin Blanc sausages all house-made and very tasty. As our conversation kept flowing, so did the beer. Always a favorite of mine, the Bigfoot Barleywine was next on my list. 2009 marked it's 25th release of this dense hoppy monster of a brew. It's alcohol content is 9.6% but it goes down so easy. Easy enough that I was onto the Life & Limb, which is another dark beer Sierra did with the Dogfish Head folks. It is brewed with maple syrup from Dogfish Head Brewery founder, Sam Calagione's family farm in Massachusetts and estate barley grown on the Grossman "farm" at the brewery in Chico, CA. Both breweries blended the yeast and it's name "is dedicated to the family of beer drinkers and enthusiasts worldwide who continue to support the little guys, iconoclasts, entrepreneurs, and pioneers who risk life and limb to shape the vibrant craft-brewing community." I like the sound of that!

Steve mentioned Sierra Nevada Beer Camp. I asked him if it was anything like the sleep-away camps I went to as a child. He laughed and said it was an industry thing and definitely noted my enthusiasm for wanting to participate. The folks at Pi, Zeitgeist, Toronado, Barclays and the B Street Bistro were all invited to attend Beer Camp #19. The result was a beer they created called the Hoptimum with an alcohol content of 10.4%. This Imperial IPA consists of pale and Munich malts, Simcoe, Chinook, Citra and Magnum hops. It tasted great and is still on tap today if you want to catch an appearance.

After introducing Angie to Steve and sampling a bit more beer, it was off to Oakland. But not before stopping at Humphry Slocombe for 4 flights of beer ice cream. They had six on the board that night and got to try each of them before deciding on my FINAL FOUR. Like the Blue Frog Scottish Ale and the Iron Springs Rye Ale + Caraway Brittle. I thoroughly enjoyed the Hop Stoopid & Bacon Cappuccino Stout + Cocoa both made with Lagunitas beers. Jake also did a Blue Frog Spiced Wassail flavor. I think he told me he must of made close to 60 different combinations over the Beer Week. I have to say, he was been very generous with all the leftover brews at his store. Thanks Jake!

We finally showed up to the game at 8:30pm but I can't say I remember much, as Angie nudged me to wake up several times before we finally exited in the 4th quarter. But it was an incredible night and I was really excited to have experienced all of the different flavors and innovations of beer.

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