Author Archive | Real Beer

Full Sail Wassail

Today’s “Holiday Beer of the Day” comes from Mt. Hood, Oregon, just north of Portland in a beautiful part of the state. One of the earliest Christmas beers, Full Sail’s Wassail Ale has been around now for twenty years.

A few unmistakable signs tell us when winter has arrived in Hood River. The waterfalls in the Gorge start kicking out the jams. The snow report for the backcountry regains its hold over us. And the Wassail starts flowing once again. And that means friends and family will surely be close behind.

Full Sail Wassail

“Historically, brewers craft small batches of darker beers, generously adding extra hops and malts to make exceptionally robust tasty ales to celebrate the season and as a way of sharing the bounty of the season with their customers. We carry on this tradition with Wassail. Choosing our ingredients for Wassail is like taking time to choose the perfect gift. Each year we carefully select the best hops and malts to brew this special beer. This year’s Wassail is brewed with a range of caramel malts and dark chocolate malts giving it a deep mahogany color and a full malty body. We used a blend of European noble hops and Pacific Northwest aroma hops for a pleasantly hoppy finish creating a deliciously balanced beer that appeals to both hop and malt lovers alike. In other words, a Christmas miracle! It’s our gift from the brewery to our loyal beer patrons – it’s our way of giving thanks. We have brewed Wassail every holiday season since 1988 and it’s now as much a part of the festivities as sharing a roaring fire with our closest family and friends,” recalled Jamie Emmerson, Full Sail’s Executive Brewmaster.

The packaging features a vintage postcard of the scenic Hood River Valley dusted with snow. In the spirit of tradition, a snow-covered douglas-fir tree looms in the foreground and Mt. Hood rises majestically in the background. Wassail makes the ideal gift for the beer enthusiasts in your life, and is the perfect accompaniment to the desserts and flavorful dishes that the holidays bring. Look for Wassail six packs at your favorite store, or on draught at your local restaurant or pub. Wassail will be widely available October through December.

Wassail was recently awarded another gold medal, and was rated “Exceptional” at the 2008 World Beer Championships (WBC). Wassail previously won a platinum medal and a “superlative” rating at the 2005 WBC, a gold medal at the 2007, 2006 and 2004 WBC, and three silver medals in 1999, 2000 and 2001.

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The Best of American Beer & Food

This post originally appeared at Appellation Beer.

The Best of American Beer & FoodOnce a good ol’ beer person, always a good ol’ beer person.

Lucy Saunders can’t help herself. She’s a beer person, and that shows up on every page of The Best of American Beer & Food: Pairing & Cooking with Craft Beer.

(Disclaimer: Lucy has been a friend of my wife and I for 15 years, and we both had a small hand in this book. Now I’ll go back to calling her Saunders.)

This is the book you’d expect from someone whose preparation included working as a line cook in top flight restaurants where beer is treated with respect, but also the book you’d expect from somebody who has gone to brewing school. A beer person. Somebody who can talk to us about the pleasures of food and drink without being fussy.

She isn’t pedantic when she writes about finding the right beer for a particular dish, nor when it comes to executing a recipe. She’s friendly, as you’d expect of a beer person.

So what’s in the book?

- Primers for enjoying the decadent side of beer, with separate chapters on beer and cheese, then beer and chocolate.
- An affirmation of what’s going on across the country, with interviews from every region.
- Recipes, of course, six or seven dozen of them, many made with beer and all intended to be enjoyed with beer.
- Food porn. Full-page, color pictures worth at least a thousand words apiece.

Who should own the book?

- It helps if you can cook — some of the recipes are challenging.
- Anybody looking for pleasures to enjoy with friends. Be ready to be inspired to prepare multi-course meals served with a wide range of beers.
- Anybody looking for simple pleasures. You can pick a single dish, a simple one, and stick to one beer.
- Food lovers who are ready to be surprised. I fully expect cooking types to find a recipe that looks too good to pass on, discover it is prepared or served with a beer style new to them . . . and have a new favorite beer.

No, this isn’t totally groundbreaking. Brewers Publications, the publishing arm of the Brewers Association and producer of this book, also put out Candy Schermerhorn’s Great American Beer Cookbook in 1993. There have been several outstanding books since (and soon I’ll get to reviewing Great Food Great Beer, also brand new) and you may want to buy one or more of them as well.

What I appreciate about The Best of American Beer & Food is the combination of how and what. Saunders’ approach elevates beer, in no small part because dishes that take a little more effort to prepare might just deserve beer with a little more flavor.

In the foreward, Randy Mosher writes, “But all too often in the world of fine food, wine swaggers into the dining room like it owns the joint, while beer is left to skitter in the shadows from crumb to crumb.”

In this book Saunders doesn’t swagger, but she sure does own the joint.

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Tools in a beer can

Tools in a canThis might look like your average beer can, but instead of beer inside you’ll find a complete tool kit.

Included are a bit holder, a bit driver, a socket adapter and a full range of bits and sockets.

“Perfect for car racing events as well – Formula 1, NASCAR.”

Or . . . the same can is available with golf items inside.

2,700 beers and it fits in a stocking

The Beer GuideThe Beer Guide delivers reviews of 2,700 beers and still (at 4 by 8 inches) manages to remain the size of a stocking stuffer.

The reviews are based on tens of thousands of ratings by the 30,000 members of the RateBeer.com community, and come with descriptions taken from the ratings by the website’s long-time editor, Josh Oakes.

From the Dayton Daily News:

“Brutally honest, brilliant food-to-beer guide and a good deal of hilarious commentary. Studying it can only improve your beer IQ.”

Extreme Brewing: ‘How to’ from a master

Extreme BrewingBeer Hunter Michael Jackson suggests: “Let one of the beer industry’s most irrepressible brewers lead you to extremes in your kitchen. Do try this at home – you’ll be glad you did.”

Sam Calagione wrote Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home with novice brewers in mind, but has packed the book with information useful to non-brewers and advanced brewers as well.

Here’s a review.