Last Sunday at the Commmonwealth Cafe and Pub in Oakland, Cicerone Nicole Erny held her British Isles beer and cheese pairing event. After a day at Triple Rock sampling sour beers amongst the crowds I was quite happy to get to this event. Seating was limited here and the ambiance was terrific, a great way to relax and get some focus towards pairings. Outside of this, it was also great to see some Bay Area Mashers there (AJ, Lee Shepard, and others) along with Nate Smith (part time masher!) and Chaz Lakip (traveled down from Juneau, AK).
After settling up on cost and enjoying some conversation with a pint of 21st Amendment’s very excellent Bitter American (way better than I imagined, can’t wait till it comes out in cans). We were promptly seated and the event began. I won’t go into too much detail but Nicole really does her homework for her events. Along with some history of both the beers and cheese we were tasting, she presented pairings that I wouldn’t have thought doable. You would think some of these cheeses would just overpower the beer but they didn’t. Amazing what the odiferous washed rind cheese brought out in the milk stout or how the stilton treated the Scotch Ale. None of the beers (and one cider) I’ve had before, certainly not the cheese. While I came to learn something, I also had a door opened up in terms of possibilities of what you can come up with. There is a lot going on with pairing beer and cheese, more so than I imagined. Thanks for the head start.
Trust me, you are doing a disservice by missing a Nicole event. Check out the few shots below and clicky on them for a bigger version.
Cheers and don’t forget the cheese with your next beer.
Posts Tagged ‘21st Amendment’
It is very easy to say that the great thing about beer is beer itself. Very true but what really adds life to that statement is the great people you meet through beer. This is talked about all the time amongst beer people. Yesterday was a good example.
So I learn about Push Eject through the Brewing Network. Then I find out down the road that we have a lot in common with our day jobs and other things. Then I officially met Push at NHC this last year. Then last week I get a note from him asking for information on upgrading a bunch of their systems at work. After little thought, it made sense to just fly Push up here and have him go straight to the source for his answers and have some fun in the process. So a day or two after I received his note, he had a boarding pass and was on his way up here for a whirlwind work visit. Ok, but this blog isn’t called work obsessed. So let’s move on.
Even though I could get Push up here on the company’s dime, it is still my duty to show a beer brother a good time. 21st Amendment is quite easily accessible from work so off we went there with some other work folks. Push brought homebrew that we all sampled at the table including his last bottle of a 5 year old barleywine that was damn good and smooth(thank you for that one!). Also a couple versions of his Mrs. P’s porter that were excellent as well(one with hazelnut extract and the other with chocolate nibs…both blended well with the porter). Since Brewmaster Shaun O Sullivan was there, he brought out what I believe was the last can of Watermelon Funk on the planet. We were all honored by this and it was a great beer. Yep Watermelon Wheat covered in horseblanket. A slice of heaven.
Time was already getting tight at this point and I wanted to try and get Push to Beer Revolution in Oakland since neither of us had been there. We went back to the office and finished up our actual business. Time was tight, I brought a 4 year vertical of Bigfoot to try and we only had time for two of them (we liked the ’10 better that the ’07…less bitter if you can believe it and we enjoyed the freshness). So off on BART we went and made to Beer Revolution. Great place, you need to go if you haven’t been there. We walk in and there was Roger and George from Triple Rock, Adam and Carey from Linden St., and Shaun O (Shaun was planned actually). Well heck, if the brewers are hanging out here then you gotta love that! Push got to sample Odonata’s Water Witch and Moonlight’s Misspent Youth. Somehow we talked Shaun into driving him to Oakland airport and that was it. Push made his flight in the nick of time.
So back to my earlier point. I have met a lot of great people and continue to meet new ones through beer. In Push’s case, we were able to help each other out business-wise but we took it one step better and made a fun day out of it as well. That doesn’t happen with your typical client. Leave it to good beers and the friends that come out of them! So to Push and the rest of you. I look forward to sharing more beers with you again in the in the future.
We have been getting our version of winter in the Bay Area lately. Meaning, one rainstorm after another. Outside of some flooding, trees falling, and apartment buildings dropping into the ocean, we actually do need the water. I think we are still only about 80% of normal. But we can’t suffer anymore because, as you may know, we don’t deal well with “weather” here.
It does make your local pub more cozy and I did want to get a couple of shots up. Prior to the storms, Rodger Davis the Brewmaster for Triple Rock celebrated the 20th anniversary of his 20th Birthday. On tap was “Bitter Birthday”, a recipe that originally came from 21st Amendment (Bitter American). I do like this beer but it took some getting used to. Now I feel there should be more beers like it. I suppose you could call it a “session-able west coast IPA”. It is a point or so under 5% ABV and has beautiful hop aroma and flavor. The getting used to part is that you don’t get the body you normally associate with IPA, which actually isn’t a problem and you could drink several as opposed to maybe two full strength IPAs. More session beers please.
Another beer that is wonderful on tap is Blind Pig. Pretty much a Bay Area IPA tradition, I tend to gravitate towards it whenever I see it on the menu. While it is called a DIPA by some the ABV is lighter for that style at about 6.x ABV. I am happy that it is available in bottle as well so I can have it at home.
This Saturday is the Brewing Network’s Winterfest at Linden Street Brewing Company in Oakland. It is their first beer festival but I do expect a couple things to come out of it: This will become an established event right up there with the other big west coast beer events and it will raise the bar on what a beer festival could/should be. Food will be preapared on site by Beer Chef Sean Paxton. The menu is amazing. The event itself is 25 bucks for entrance, a glass, and five drink tokens (more tokens can be purchased). Just remember that that the pours will be 9 ounces and most beers will be high octane. You will get your money’s worth. I would pack up to 50 dollars just in case since Sean’s food I believe will run you 10 dollars for the plate. Visit thebrewingnetwork.com for more info.
I look forward to meeting new faces and old. Please hit me up for a taste of my mead as I plan on packing some, low key style.
The day before the festival, Cicerone Nicole Erny will debut with her first beer dinner. The location is the Lafayette Hotel in Lafayette, CA. Please call the hotel for reservations.
The menu is first class and I believe is five courses total. The beers are all Belgian, culminating with St. Bernardus 12 being served with the main course. I know Nicole worked hard on the menu and if you have ever been to one of her beer schools, you know the depth of her knowledge. It kills me that I won’t be able to make the event but I wish her well and to a very successful event. Mark my words, Nicole is a name to watch in the industry.
SF Beer Week is Feb. 5 – 14
Reminder that SF Beer Week is coming. There are two many events to list. Please go their website: sfbeerweek.com to see the list. I will be at the Opening event on Friday at the Yerba Buena Gardens plus I will also be checking out sour monday at Triple Rock. Hoping to meet folks at both events. I may be at others but have no strong commitments yet.
A quick update and pic of the week:
Being distributed throughout the country but there is a limited amount. Check with the 21st Amendment for availability.
If you live in the Bay Area, Bevmo and specialty beer stores should be carrying it. Again, in limited supplies so talk with your beer retailor so that you can get yours.
I just had some on tap and it was terrific (same as what is in the cans). Here’s a shot of my two four packs and can’t wait to enjoy some more this weekend.
As mentioned below, one of my favorite IPAs: Brew Free or Die by the 21st Amendment tasted different to me lately, the munich malt that I loved so much had all but dissapeared.
If you drink the hell out of this beer because you love its malty goodnes then be patient. 21st has no intention of changing the recipe, they have just done a little tinkering. Brewmaster and Co-Founder, Shaun O’Sullivan saw my entry and sent a response:
“I saw your post about our IPA in your blog and you are dead on right. We have been tweeking the recipe and incorporating new malts to achieve that Munich malt flavor. Unfortunately, we are not a huge brewery so the beer drinking public is getting to taste test our R&D. I am confident that we will get there. In fact the last batch is particularly good and has a good healthy charge of German Munich malt with the addition of caramalt. We have been also trying a new way of dry hopping the IPA where I think we are picking up more aroma, which can be so elusive when you package an IPA. Thanks for trying and thanks for the comments. “
…and thank you Shaun for checking out the 22oz blog.
Folks, actually a great opportunity here to enjoy some of that R&D and try some interesting tweaks to the IPA in a can that you know and love. Save what you have now, run down to your store and grab some more to see if you have one of the tweaked recipes. Grab some more down the road to see the final version. Compare and contrast the different tweaks and learn a few things in the process. Send 21st your feedback. I’m sure they would appreciate to hear how folks are taking to it.
As an Oakland native, I felt a bit of pride when I heard Nate Smith named his award winning Double IPA: North Oakland Double IPA. It speaks to his love of the area and perhaps how he feels it is home. Much like I do.
His beer is currently on tap at Triple Rock brewing in Berkeley and I suggest you try it while it is still there. Go out and feel the East Bay love presented in all of its hoppy glory.
Nate will take this beer to the Great Amerian Beer Festival this week in hopes of placing in the Pro-Am contest. I wanted to speak with Nate about this beer, how he became the DIPA mad scientist, and how he hooked up with Rodger Davis, Brewmaster of Triple Rock, for the GABF Pro-Am. Not everyone can get into the Pro-Am competition….you need an actual award winning beer and you need the Pro Brewer to help you brew it.
Nate was kind enough to answer my questions before he headed out to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival.
Tell me about your backgound…how long have you been brewing and how did you evolve into brewing Double IPAs?
I started brewing in spring of 1998 shortly after I moved to Santa Clara County, CA from the east coast. A curiosity for the world of beer and a lack of money drove me to find my first extract and plastic-bucket kit. I was immediately hooked even though my first batch turned out like crap. I brewed nearly every weekend back then, mostly so my friends and I would have something to drink. Plastic buckets as mash-tuns, all bottle conditioned, no kegs, no temperature controlled fermentation. I keep an old webpage up that I put online back then about that first 9 months or so of brewing: http://destroy.net/brewing/1417. It’s funny to look back at that and remember barley and hop cultivars/strains that are now gone and to look at my old OG/FG statistics.
I brewed as many ale styles as I could, with as many yeast strains as I could, it was quite a revelation in those first few months of brewing to learn that “brewers make the wort, yeast makes the beer”. Phil Montalbano at the Fermentation Frenzy homebrew shop in Los Altos was really instrumental in helping me along in the beginning. Most respect to him for encouraging me to go all grain and to make yeast starters. I think Phil planted the seeds that would eventually make me a IPA brewer later on; back in 1999 I remember he gave me sample of Amarillo hops as a “super cascade” that I used in dry-hopping a few pale ales. That fresh, citrusy aromatic hop quality that you can only get from a really fresh, clean dry-hopped beer always stuck with me even during 2001-2004 when I was spending a lot more free time playing music than brewing.
By 2004 I moved to a small house in North Oakland where I could resume some of the things that I’d missed for a while: cooking, gardening and home brewing. I met Nicole around the same time and she was just beginning to explore the world of beer. Sooner or later we were on brewery tours and at the Toronado and Barclays – and that really re-inspired me to really taste, understand, enjoy and start home-brewing again with new ideas and passion. At the same time all of these wonderful, interesting new-interpretations of IPAs were appearing from Russian River, Bear Republic, Stone, Moylans, etc.. All of these interesting complex resiny, citrusy, dank, piney flavors really struck a chord. That was a turning point for my understanding
of beer. This wasn’t just another brewing fad, these hop forward flavored beers had really matured from American Pale ale into a unique, world-class regional style. From there I had to try my hand at brewing a fresh, home-brewed example. So I started brewing a lot of IPAs and Double IPAs in addition to the Pale Ales and Belgian styles I was doing already.
For the North Oakland Double IPA:
* 1st Place, 2008 BAM World Cup of Beer – Category 14, India Pale Ale
* Best of Show, BAM World Cup of Beer 2008
* 2nd Place, 2008 Mayfaire Regional Homebrew competition – Class 7, India Pale Ale
* 2nd Place, 2008 National Homebrew Competition, 1st Round, IPA Category – Western Region
* 1st Place, IPA, 2008 Bay Area Brew Off – Alameda County Fair
* Best of Show, 2008 Alameda County Fair Bay Area Brew Off
I had to pick just one – It was the World Cup beer that lead to the Pro-Am.
How did you hook up with Rodger Davis, Brewmaster of Triple Rock?
Rodger and I talked about doing a Pro-Am beer at the Trappist the night after the World Cup in March 2008. I’d known Rodger a bit a few years prior as an acquaintance that I’d see from time to time at beer
festivals and bars. He was between breweries at the time, so I wasn’t quite sure if we’d find a place to do this beer as a Pro-Am beer, but we talked about it again a few times over the days and months. Finally he wound up at Triple Rock when Christian left for Iron Springs. Great timing really, because the new assistant brewer at Triple Rock, George Kumparak has been a friend for many years and we were already talking about trying to do some brewing collaborations before Rodger started there. Perfect situation all around.
Your DIPA is called North Oakland DIPA. I’m an Oakland native myself, are you going to bring it on and make the 510 proud?
Absolutely! The 510 and especially North Oakland feel like home more than anywhere else I’ve lived in my adult life. The last 3 years of trial batches were definitely a product of the environment in which they were created. Everyone from Nicole (Trappist) to my hophead neighbor Scott (Barclays), to the pizza delivery guy to the folks in Stormcrow and Beercraft – I tried to serve this beer to anyone who was interested and get their feedback for future changes. Part of it is a bit absurd, tongue-in-cheek, as if this beer was brewed in the “North Oakland Double IPA” style, as if such a a category exists! Brian Hunt is one of my brewing heroes, and I like how he talks about beer and food being highly regional, so the name is a nod of respect to that idea.
Is this your first time to GABF or have you been before, what are your expectations of the event?
No, I’ve never been to the GABF before. I expect to be overwhelmed and under the constant urge to try way too many beers that are unavailable to us in Northern California such as the hoppy beer from Alpine Brewing and Three Floyds to the fruit beers from New Glarus, the unfiltered beers of Furthermore to the Belgian and French ales from Southampton. I’m also really looking forward to meeting up with the handful of people I know in the brewing world and enjoy an extended time away from my day job to sit down and seriously discuss brewing and beer with some friends over some fine beverages.
I don’t know the number but I’m sure there are quite a few entries in the pro-am…..is it more then to just savor the experience of being in the pro-am or is it really going after the medal?
There are approximately 60 entries in the Pro-Am category. I just love being able to savor the experience. Any medals would just be icing on the cake. Being able to take a day out of my normal routine to be invited to make a 7 barrel batch based on my homebrew recipe is just amazing. It’s a great feeling just to walk in Triple Rock and order this beer for myself and my friends. And then at the same time notice that other people around the bar are ordering and enjoying the beer (with no encouragement or input from me!) is a really cool experience. Thanks to Rodger, George, the Martin brothers and the Triple Rock staff for going out of their way to help pull this off. They tracked down special types and quantities of grain, adjuncts and
hops for this beer that they normally don’t stock, which was so kind of them. This beer was very expensive to begin with, and to take on extra expense and chance of using special ingredients for a one-off beer is very respectful.
You are also in a couple of bands, one of them being Stormcrow. Is metal and brewing a great mix or what?
Metal/punk/hardcore and brewing go hand in hand. This is one case in which stereotypes are true, and for good reason. Great music and
great drink go back with humans as far as time, and for me the perfect combination is heavy music and beer. Beer and music pairing anyone? We hear a lot about food and beer pairing, but what about music and beer pairing? I used to jokingly pair music with the recipes as a suggestion for consumption and on brew day. Let’s try a more updated version:
Full Sail Session Lager or PBR with Amebix, Dystopia or Bolt Thrower
Boont Amber or Red Seal with At The Gates
St. Bernardus Abt 12 or Konigshoven Quad with Asunder, Sunn or Laudanum
Pliny the Elder or Port Brewing Wipeout IPA with Sleep or Kyuss
Old Rasputin or Shakespeare Stout with Darkthrone, Emperor or Ludicra
Duvel or Damnation with Slayer or Morbid Angel
St. Feuillien or Witkap Tripel with Carcass or Napalm Death
Cantillon Iris or Drie Foaintainen Oude Gueuze with The Fucking Champs or Tarantula Hawk
Hahaha.. It could go on forever.. this is ridiculous. If I ever work in a production brewery I’m going to lobby for music and beer pairing suggestions on the bottle labels, just to be confusing and obnoxious if nothing else.
If the economy keeps going south and you had to sell either your triple rectifier amp head or your brew system what would you pick?
I’d go to the soup lines and try to keep both. But, if push comes to shove, I suppose it would have to be the Triple Rectifier, since that’s easier to quantify for someone else. My brewing system is a cobbled together mess that wouldn’t be very well understood by anyone else, so I’ll probably take that one to the grave.
Mike McDole of Clayton teamed up with Sean of 21st Ammendment for the Pro-Am. Do you know Mike?
Tasty McDole is one of the best brewers around and just an awesome guy. Generous and friendly doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’m happy I do know him a bit, and thankful for this hobby that I do, otherwise
I probably wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to meet folks like him. We did a cross-bay “release party tour” one evening when his Pro-Am beer was on at the 21A and mine was on tap at Triple Rock. That was pretty awesome.
You vs. McDole, could this be a classic battle of the 925 vs the 510?
Yes, you’re right! Well, Tasty loses points because he didn’t have a 925 brewery produce his beer. Nah, just kidding. If either of these entries places in the Pro-Am entry, I’ll be thrilled. The 21A “Tasty” is an awesome beer, I encourage everyone to go down to 21A and enjoy a pint when it’s back on again soon. The nose and hop flavor of an IPA with the drinkability of a Pale Ale. Just absolutely wonderful.
Best of luck to you Nate and enjoy GABF!
Jon / Beer Obsessed, thanks for inviting me to do the interview! Cheers!!!