Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Beer Obsessed on the road: The Publick House in Boston, MA

Friday, July 9th, 2010

The Publick House

The Publick House was probably one of the first beer places to get jotted down on my “things to do in Boston” list. I believe it was about 2 years ago some important media thing listed this place as one of the top 5 beer bars in the country. Funny enough, while cruising around on yelp, many folks listed Publick House’s mac and cheese as the thing that can’t be missed. Besides loving beer, I love mac and cheese so off I went.
The Publick House if very accessible from the T (Boston’s “subway”). You get off at Washington Square and walk all of about a block. Its location in the Brookline area seems mellow in a Portland Oregon kind of way but that’s just a generalization for a guy who was there for all of one evening. At 7pm on a Tueday, the place was already filling up. It was just me so I was able to easily able to slot myself into a place. drinking Pretty Things field mouses farewell at The Publick House
My focus for the beer part of my trip was on local/regional beers so I ordered a bottle of Pretty Things Field Mouse’s Farewell. A “rustic golden ale” brewed with barley, wheat, rye, and oats. Of the Pretty Things I have tried in the past, I discovered they don’t worry much about keeping to style (not a bad thing). This beer was bright with orange and spice. A clean beer and interesting. Somewhere in here I put in my order for the mac and cheese. The beauty of the dish is you can customize it…so I added broccoli and bacon. publick house mac n cheeseThe dish soon showed up in all of its steaming glory. They use eggshell pasta and they had put it in the oven to get that nice baked on surface. While I was waiting for it to cool down, I ordered a Brooklyn Brewing Brown Ale to go with my meal. The beer was a clean and classic brown. It supported the mac and cheese nicely but ultimately a brown’s roastiness is probably a hard too much for this dish. The mac and cheese? Wow! Completely worth the trip on that meal alone. Here I am in a “top beer bar” and I’m going on about the mac and cheese. That is the beauty of travel I guess.publick house old rasputin on nitro
For my final beer, I broke my own rules and I ordered a North Coast Old Rasputin on nitro. I couldn’t pass this up as I kept seeing this setup around Boston. Man, why haven’t I seen this on the west coast? Old Rasputin + nitro = brilliant. It smoothed out any high octane edginess that the standard version has and envelopes you in a bed of lush creaminess. Fantastic.
You can’t go to The Publick House without walking up the street to their bottle shop. The Publick House Provisions. A nice bottle shop with an incredible selection of glassware on top of it. After making a few laps, I purchased a bottle of Brooklyn Brewing Local 1 publick house provisionsand DIPA that was under the Publick House name. Helping me with the latter beer was Josh, who was working the store that night. A very cool guy and we talked East coast beers and West coast beers and a few other beer things.

Worth the trip? Absolutely but if you are a beer person, you don’t need me to tell you that. What I can tell you is that you should definitely check out the mac and cheese!

josh at the publick house

Beer Obsessed on the road: Redbones BBQ in Somerville, MA.

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Redbones BBQ

 I spent a week in Boston and the first place I hit was Redbones BBQ since I was on my way north of Boston proper. Redbones is in Somerville which is an easy drive from Boston and it is also accessable via the T (subway). This place first popped onto my radar after reading about it in the All About Beer magazine travel issue. This place made the top 150 world beer destinations. Works for me.
It was a warm and muggy June night and the place was crowded on a Sunday. Fortunately it was just me and I was able to get a spot at the bar after a few minutes.
While I knew I wanted ribs and some side dishes, I was a bit daunted by the beer board. Part of my mission in Boston was to stick with local/regional beers and I didn’t know where to start. I ended up grabbing a Chester Street Amber and I quite enjoyed it. First success.
Tip #1
I think next time I do a trip like this, I’m going to order a half pint of beer list for Redbones BBQa calibration beer. I think a Sierra Nevada Pale sitting there would have helped me quite a bit as I really didn’t have much to go on after being a bit dazed and hungry from traveling all afternoon.  
Sometime during the course of my meal, I also tried both the Harpoon IPA and the Ipswitch IPA. They definitely weren’t left coast IPAs but I expected that. This would take some getting used to. Maybe I was just tired. I hit the road about 10pm in order to get farther up north and I needed rest.
I would hit Redbones again later in the week and try the hushpuppies which were fantastic. A couple more beers….one IPA that was quite bitter. Don’t remember the name.
Regardless of the ramblings above. Redbones should be on your to do list if you are beer traveling around Boston. I even got the thumbs up on this place from Lew Bryson who commented back to me via facebook during the week. Screw me, if Lew likes it then you go!
Pics below…click for bigger versions:

cornbread at Redbones BBQThe cornbread was awesome. The beer is the Chester Street Amber. I enjoyed both.

ribs at Redbones BBQRibs were Memphis dry rub. Very very tasty and the sauce (mild) worked well.

Dave from Redbones BBQDave was the bartender for the night. I was tricked as I thought he had the classic Boston guy Irish look about him but he is an original west coaster who arrived in Boston via some time in Honolulu. Go figure.

How do you feed 1000 homebrewers a great meal? We go behind the scenes with Sean Paxton at the NHC awards dinner.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Sean Paxton in the kitchenAt the National Homebrewing Conference Awards dinner, I had the pleasure of shooting some pics of Homebrew Chef Sean Paxton in the kitchen preparing the dinner. The idea to do this all started with the question, “how do you feed 1000 people? and how do you do it as well as Sean Paxton?”. Technically it was 930ish people but if you look at the shot of the tables below, it doesn’t matter. This is a daunting task.
When I met Sean in the kitchen he was his relaxed, jovial self as usual. Much of the hard work was done and it was a matter of watching the staff, offering any sought after advice, and consults with Sheraton Executive Chef Chad and others. You can tell it takes a tight, well coordinated team to do this and it started with mutual respect for each other. Everyone definitely got along well in the kitchen.
Thank you to Sean for the opportunity to shot some photos of you in action!
Check the photos below and don’t forget to click on them for a higher res version:

tables for nhc awards dinner

A lot of work ahead of them but the staff at the Sheraton filled and emptied tables of food quite smoothly.

Sean Paxton

The one and only Sean Paxton.

Fresh walleye caught by John Maier
Fresh walleye caught by John Maier, Brewmaster for Rogue Brewing Co. He snagged the fish while he was out in Minnesota for the convention.

Sean and Chad discuss
Sheraton Executive Chef Chad has a quick discussion about one of the dishes.

veggie prep

contemplating temperature
Examining the temperature of one of the dishes.

plating the dinners
Executive Chef Chad overseeing some of the food plating

killer Sean
Probably a sign that I need to get out of the kitchen.

Sean Paxton and Marriot Executive Chef Chad

Sean Paxton and Sheraton Executive Chef Chad……the job is done. Time to eat. Nice work!

Big win for craft beer in the East Bay: Berkeley Bowl opens second store

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
berkeley bowl beer

70 feet of aisle for craft beer at the Berkeley Bowl West. Bud, Miller, and Coors has about 3ft of shelf space just to the right of the photo.

Berkeley Bowl has been a long time institution in Berkeley. They are known for their huge variety of fruits and vegetables. There is no other grocery store like it. You want cherries? They had five different types last month. Peaches and nectarines? You’ll have half a dozen different kinds to choose from. Heck, if your brave, you can even walk out with a Durian. The one problem with the Bowl is the crowds. I have only been there once in my life because of this. That was about a month ago. I got there 2 minutes before opening on a weekday and I got the second to last parking spot.
On my way to work the other day, I saw a billboard announcing “Berkeley Bowl West”. I looked it up at work and got the address. Conveniently located off the Ashby exit on I80, I arrived at a huge new warehouse at about 4:30 pm. There was plenty of parking. I went inside a giant store with plenty of room to move around. Wow, then I saw the beer aisle.

Beer aisle stats:
Aisle length: 70 feet
Space devoted to the “big three”: 3 feet
First beer I caught that I haven’t seen elsewhere: Elysian Brewing

Yep, I wandered slowly down the beer aisle twice looking at the selection. This being the bowl, they had a nice selection of organic beers, at leat one I have never heard of. I then rounded the corner to see where they put the rest of the Bud, Miller, and Coors. It wasn’t anywhere. If you wanted bland beer, there was a very small section for them on the right side…and they stuffed in Pabst and all the other sub-big beers in there as well. What the hell? did the buyers get the hint? I would say hell yes. I stood back and soaked the moment in for all it was worth.
The immediate Bay Area is kind of an island in many ways to the rest of the state but I was quite proud of this moment where one store says that we, like the rest of our products, are going to carry quality beer with flavor and uniqeness. We are going to offer variety and we are going to support smaller businesses. We will do this at a cost but we believe people want it and that others will realize the benefits one day soon. Then I scanned the aisle one more time. Nice.

So where are the crowds? The marketing for this store hasn’t been great. They opened on June 4th and said they had a spike in business right before the 4th of July. They are going to host a new website soon that will promote it and I expect that crowds will increase. Maybe slowly at first but they will increase. Fortunately they have done some good planning to meet this. Parking is well thought out and they have an underground garage as well (complete with an eSign telling you how many spaces are left). Push come to shove, you can park on the street nearby since this is, generally speaking, a warehouse region of Berkeley.berkeley bowl sugar

What else? too much to say here a but go and check out the store. I did manage to snap a shot of the sugars. For you belgian brewers, there are a couple different types of turbinado sugars (regular and organic) and I spotted sucanat sugar as well.

Can’t wait to get back here buy an armload of beer and support Berkeley Bowl’s efforts in expansion. Please do the same if you are nearby!

Paying homage to the Sierra Nevada brewpub….and enjoying it

Monday, April 27th, 2009

sierra nevada brewing coSo during our last brewer interview tour, we went up to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and visited their brewpub. I had never been there and it was time to find out all of the great things I have been hearing about it. It was worth it. Here we go:
The brewpub itself is occupies a corner of what looks to be their main building. I don’t mean to make the pub sound small, the building is their “main” building that houses the brew systems and fermentation tanks located on the frontage of their property. Funny, if you look at google maps and survey the area while you are up there, you realize the Sierra bought their property at a time when it was probably the edge or outside of the town of Chico. Today, it is surrounded by the standard outlying and freeway access fare…there are a couple hotels and the typical chain type foods joints (applebees, etc) and all the big stores (home depot, target, etc). It looks like if Sierra want to expand further, they are either getting a different property or they are going up. Fortunately, it looks like they had great vision and everything they have today fits well on their large property, including some fairly large acreage of hops.
We checked into the Oxford Inn which is about a 10 minute walk from the brewpub, perfect location right on the other side of highway 99. After dropping off our stuff and downing a growler of an excellent rye beer from Blue Frog, we headed over to the pub. At 5:30 on a Friday (a beautiful night weather-wise, by the way…about 70 degrees) the pub was hopping and we had about a 20 minute wait for a table. We proceed to the bar and were overwhelmed to see about 16 of their beers on tap (wait….they don’t have that many bottled beers). The brewpub itself, I would call “large brewpub” in size. It is not huge, which Sierra Nevada could have easily done but they kept it as a pub atmosphere and size does have something to do with that. sierra nevada sampler trayOK back to those beers. Where to start? I love brown ales and they happened to have one so I ordered that. They also had a Brown Saison which Mike ordered. The brown was excellent and I stuck with it most of the night. Malty, balanced, and luscious…exactly what I expect from a brewery of Sierra’s caliber. The brown saison was very basically the brown but with a Belgian yeast. I’m sure there is more to it than that but it worked. Generally, I am not a fan of “throw Belgian yeast into a non-belgian beer” but this one is a winner and does what others don’t: it gelled, melded, coalesced well. While were enjoying this first round, our little coaster/buzzer thing start going off and we were led to our seats on the patio. Another round was ordered and I either got another brown or their bock which I loved as well. I’m pretty new to the bock style so one of the great things that can happen is finding an example of said style that really does the trick for you. I love this beer, very drinkable. Pilsner malt aroma, great body, and a nice hint of toast. Fortunately, they had six packs of this beer in their gift shop so we grabbed a couple the next morning. What other beers did they have? I suggest looking at the photo gallery since there is a great shot of the sampler tray with names and also a shot of the beer list. There was a kellerbier that I would have invested more time in if we were there for another night. Couple of weizen beers, a blonde, and more.
I was happy to finally understand and dispel one myth while I was up there. The going phrase I knew was “you gotta go to the brewpub because the Pale Ale is different up there”. The real story is that Sierra Nevada has different recipes for their draft pale ale and the bottled version. The nice thing about their pub is not only do they have the draft version (of course) but they had the bottled version on draft as well so you can do them side by side. Unfortunately I didn’t do a comparison since I was so enamored with their other beers that are not available anywhere else. Our server said , I believe, that the draft version is higher ABV but I could have it backwards. Anyway, if I was dying to try it, I could set up that side by side back at home.
sierra nevada fermentationThe food? Standard pub fare plus. I went for the plus and got the fillet mignon tips in fettuccini. The sauce was a light white sauce. Oh baby was it good. Ended up splattering a bunch of it on my new, white brewers association t-shirt. There were other shirts in my travel duffel so good to go.

So Sierra Nevada brewpub? Do it. Pay homage to America’s original craft brewery. I would recommend that if you are a beer lover, that you do two nights up there. You could take the 2pm tour the next day and hit the pub again the next night to finish out what you couldn’t the night before.
Oh and don’t forget to check out the photo gallery.

Auburn Alehouse:
We wanted to interview Brewmaster, Brian Ford but he had surgery earlier in the week and couldn’t make it. We managed to stop at his brewpub (he is also the founder) on the way to an interview later that day. The Alehouse is easy access from the freeway and would actually make a great place to stay as it looks to be in the “old town” area right south of interstate 80. We sampled a few of the beers and the nitro stout and his porter were our favorites. The porter was on the side of coffee, chocolate with good fullness (as opposed to clean, roasty porter). Food was good and we had a couple appetizers while we were there.
Would definitely like to spend more time at this pub in the future so we’ll get back to it one day but wanted to note that it looks like a good stop for a pint. I have a couple shots of the pub at the end of the photo gallery for this entry.

Lunch at Triple Rock

Monday, March 16th, 2009
bill brand brown ale

Bill Brand Brown Ale and quesadilla

The closest brewpub to my house is Triple Rock. I began renewing my relationship with their beer line up and menu over a year ago. Since then, they changed head brewers…Christian Kazakoff moved on to Iron Springs Brewpub and Rodger Davis came on board at Triple Rock. I loved Christian’s take on the beer line up and I also appreciate what Rodger is doing as well. Besides the regular lineup, the guest beers have been great (two recent barleywines for example: Valley Brewing and The Bruery) and the one off brews have been great too. This last Saturday, I came in, looked at the beerboard and saw “Bill Brand Brown”. Had to try it and orderd lunch as well (my usual vegetable quesadilla). Without having too much insight into what Bill likes in a beer (outside of his love for Anchor Porter), I’m sure he would be proud of this beer. It was a malty brown with just enough hops to balance. While some browns out there get a bit too hoppy for me, the hops in this one tastefully punched through just enough to say “we’re from the west coast”. I loved it myself and when it runs out, I hope Triple Rock will brew it again.

firken gravity fest breweriesAlso of note, the Triple Rock Firken Gravity Festival is happening in April on the 4th. I went last year and tried some fantastic beers. If that doesn’t do it for you please look at the picture that shows the lineup of breweries. Wow. Get there early as the lines get long and get ready for some potent beers as well. Many beers last year had the word “imperial” in the name.firken gravity festival poster

One more. This was also the first time I haven’t seen Jesse working. I was pretty much convinced that he was there 7 days a week. He is enthusiastic, helpful and knowledgeable. Hopefully he is taking some time off!

The day after the fourth

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

 So we went camping for the 4th. It was my daughters first time out in a tent for the night and she loved it.

We had Damnation with our breakfast. A beer that I absolutely love, but I think with the food presented I should have gone with Duvel. Damnation has a pepper taste in the end that clashed with the fruit and pancakes….I should have broken it out when the bacon was served instead!


 An anti-seasonal hit for the weekend:

I say anti-seasonal in reference to my session posting below. Russian River’s Dead Leaf Green is an excellent English Ale. The malt aromas and taste are spot on to the style with just enough bitterness to balance. Everyone thinks of Russian River Brewing as the home of Belgians and IPAs. In honor of the anti-season, I tried this beer and loved it. Good chance I’d get it again next time I’m at the pub.

 Other hits:

Moylan’s Irish Red Ale. Stopped at the pub on my way back from Russian River. Moylan’s is a quality brew pub with great beers. The Irish Red was not a let down. I don’t have notes for this beer but everything seemed right from Yeast esters, to the malt, and just enough hops to balance.


Food with your beer

Monday, April 7th, 2008

Hey why pair a beer with your food when you should pair food with your beer!
One dish I love making is my italian sausage sandwich. Boil some italian sausages in budweiser, cut up some peppers and onions, fry them up, heat up some buns, and you’re golden. Add a thin strip of mustard and ketchup and start eating.
I was drinking my Irish Red homebrew when I decided to cook this up. The food paired nicely with the beer. My Irish Red is not that bitter which works out great with this meal since their aren’t any particular strong, overpowering flavors….mainly just sweetness. The sweetness of the sandwich marries nicely with the low bitter, malt forward ale.