Jan 31, 2013

Send me your Beer Recipes!

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Mustard and Pretzels
So, I love to cook, I love to drink beer, so, naturally, I love to cook with beer (check out my recent beer dinner here... ). I am thinking about starting to post beer recipes periodically on here. I have plenty in mind, but I am always looking for find me. So, if you have a favorite recipe, and would love to share it on here, by all means, please send it to me ( thebeerczar@gmail.com ) and I will share it! If you have a photo of it, please include it, if not, well, I guess I'll just have to make it myself, and take a picture!

Thanks for all your support!

Until Next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar.

Jan 30, 2013

The next big beer pairing???

Mmmm, beer and BBQ
As we are all keenly aware, beer goes SO well with so many foods. Of coarse there is always beer and pizza, or beer and wings, beer and cheese, beer and BBQ, blah blah blah. Seems mostly "manly" foods, you know, stuff you eat with your hands, cook on the grill etc, seem to go hand in hand with beer, which makes sense. Well, there may be one more beer pairing coming our way. Are you ready for.......beer and Twinkies?

Twinkie is no more......

As we all know, sadly, Twinkies are no more. A few months ago, Hostess filed for bankruptcy, and ceased making the spongy yellow goodness. Since then, they have been shopping around for a buyer, in hopes to keep the cream filled yellow fat missiles in the happy, spongy bellies of Americans that just don't need any more crap to eat, but just can't seem to get enough of it.
The next big beer pairing?
Well, two players have come out on top as potential buyers. One, is Apollo Global Management, the people behind Norwegian Cruise Lines, AMC, Censers, Century 21, and even American Idol. Nothing exciting enough to note on this blog about them.

However, the other, is C. Dean Metropoulos & Co, the folks that brought you such icon's as Chef Boyardee canned pasta, Bumble Bee seafood, PAM cooking spray and Gulden's Mustard, until they sold them all to ConAgra Foods Inc. One thing they held onto however, Pabst Blue Ribbon!!! That's right, PBR, the preferred beer of rednecks and hipsters alike, is looking to buy your beloved Twinkies.

So, maybe at your next back yard BBQ, you can partake in an all American classic food pairing, PBR, chased with a sweet, yellow kitchen sponge filled with sweet, white, tasty chemicals.....

Man, this sounds like a marriage made in redneck heaven to me! Imagine, the Twinkies wedding cake, set ever so gently, on the dirty old folding table, betwixt two kegs of PBR. Who couldn't live happily ever after with a start like that???

Until next time my friends
Bottoms up
The Beer Czar

Jan 27, 2013

More Beer in Religion News....

OK, its not often that I get "religious" here on my beer blog, after all, beer and religion don't always seem to have a lot in common. I did do a write up a few weeks back, regarding "Beer and the Bible", but that is really the only time I've brought religion into this blog. Well, its back, in a pretty big, very impressive way.

Would you go to a church, built entirely out of beer bottles? I would! If you want to, check out this little house of worship in Tailand's Sisaket province.

 Sort puts a whole new meaning to the term "one man's trash...." doesn't it. Makes me think I need to start saving all my empty's and doing something a little more useful with them!

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends!
The Beer Czar

Jan 23, 2013

Ball Park to feature craft beers!!

Fenway Park
As many of you know, I am a huge baseball fan. I've been a life long Red Sox fan, and since moving to Arizona, I have warmed up considerably to our local boys, the Diamondbacks. I have a lot of traditions when it comes to my beloved game. My mom and I attend Opening Day every year, and have with a few exceptions for the last 10 years. We always make homemade pizza during the All Star Game, and a few others. However, there is no greater tradition in baseball, then enjoying a beer and a hot dog while watching the game at the ball park. Beer is a part of baseball, and as long as I can remember, it always has been. Like the quote “Beer needs baseball, and baseball needs beer,” New York Times best-seller Peter Richmond once declared, and I couldn't agree more. However, we are seeing beer becoming a whole new aspect of today's game. A while back, I wrote about a triple A affiliate of our Arizona D-backs in Hillsboro Oregon that has embraced the beloved hop as their mascot (read my write up on it here....).

Well, they made the (beer) news again! They announced that they will be featuring local craft beer at the ball park (check out a local write up here.....)! Now, if you have ever been to Oregon, "local" beer is not only plentiful, but for the most part, excellent! There is some world class beer being brewed in that state right now!

Add caption
Seems they are still pounding out the details of the concessions contract, but should be wrapped up, maybe this week hopefully. I will be checking back on the team website occasionally to check out news of the contract, and once worked out, I would love to check out a list of beers you can get at the park!

This news comes just in time, as Pitchers and Catchers are reporting to camp in just a few weeks, and the first spring training games are less then 30 days away! So, if all you people back east are sick and tired of sub 0 temperatures, and ball deep snow, head on out and see us in the valley of the sun, to take in a few Cactus League games, and thaw out for a few days (going to be in the 80's today, and it only January!).


So, until next time my friends
Bottoms up!
The Beer Czar

Jan 13, 2013

A quick shout out!

I know this is a little late in getting out there, but I wanted to take a moment, and give a quick shout out and a thank you to my favorite beer t-shirt of the month club Craft Brewed Clothing!! Check out my new shirt! If you love beer, and you love cool and unique t-shirts, check out their website, and sign up to receive a new beer t-shirt every month!

Thank you CBC!!!!
Again, thanks so much to Josh and the folks at Craft Brewed Clothing, do me, and yourself a favor, and check them out. Even if you don't want it, I bet you know someone that would!!

Until next time my friends
Bottoms up
The Beer Czar

Jan 11, 2013

20 Most Influential Beers of All Time...

The "original" American Craft Beer
As I started my day this morning, as I normally do, I logged onto Facebook to scroll through the hundreds of posts regarding various "friends" bitching about headaches, stuffy noses, too much homework, bratty kids or shitty service they received at Starbucks this morning, in my attempt to find 4 or 5 "statues updates" worth reading or looking at further. After much scrolling, I finally found one! Allagash Brewing posted this link titled "20 Most Influential Beers of All Time" and, well being a sucker for lists, I had to check it out. From a website I am unfamiliar with, firstwefeast.com got a sort of "virtual panel" of beer experts together, to get a wide range of beers, and styles that played their part in the explosion of craft beer here in the states, as well as around the world. I am glad to say, I have tried most of these beers. A few are no longer available, but of the ones that are, I've tried about 70% of them, not too bad, but I have a little work to do. So, check out the list, and let me know your feedback.

Did they miss anything? Let me know if there is something you have had that you think belongs on this list.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Jan 7, 2013

Great news for East Valley beer folks!!!

For those of you looking for news of World of Beer opening in Gilbert. They don't have a set opening date as of yet, looks like it may be this fall sometime. The location will be at San Tan Village, along the Williams Field Rd side, right between Kona Grill and Chipotle. New's is still pretty vague, but they do have a Facebook page now, so go there, like it, and keep up to date on their news, and of coarse, as I hear anything, I will be updating it on here as well.       World of Beer Gilbert Facebook Page


As many of you know, I live in Gilbert, AZ, a suburb of Phoenix. When you hear the term "east valley" in Phoenix, you are talking about cities such as Mesa, and Tempe, as well as Chandler, and Gilbert, and a few others. Until recent years, Tempe dominated the east valley (and I would argue, the entire valleys) beer scene. Tempe hosts the states largest brewer, Four Peaks, and, well, with the exception of Papago Brewery  (just a mile north of downtown Tempe, in S Scottsdale, and btw, check out their new website!!) that was pretty much it. We slowly started getting a few "chain" brewers in the east valley, i.e. BJ's in Chandler, and Rock Bottom in Ahwatukee (S Phoenix). Then, the opening of San Tan in Chandler, and Whole Foods introduction of "The Watering Hole", and well, Chandler was in the running for the Beer Capital of the East Valley. The opening of a few more brewery's, and World of Beer in Tempe probably keeps Tempe as the capital, but Chandler is becoming a destination for beer folks in the east valley.

Inside Trophy's
Gilbert has always been a little lack luster in the beer dept. For a while, there was really no where to go get a "good" beer. No brewery's at all, and few places that offered more then the ubiquitous "mega brews" you can get at any Applebee's. Well, things are looking up in Gilbert I must say. For a while, Throphys Steakhouse was THE place for craft beer in Gilbert (Trophy's in technically in Queen Creek, but about 10 feet from the Gilbert line, so I'll include it, plus, its a VERY cool place, so check it out!).

Then, Arizona Wilderness Brewing announced it was moving to Gilbert! Gilbert's first brewery. They've had some issues with permitting, and their opening, originally planned for the last part of 2012, has now been pushed to March of 2013. Worth the wait I am sure. (I am working on setting up a meeting with the owner of AWB to go over his plans, and check out his operation, stay tuned for more details)

Well, now Sleepy Dog of Tempe just announced it is taking over the recently vacated Warren's Jazz Bistro on Val Vista and Williams Field Rd!. They will have a FULL kitchen, and are looking to move their brewery operations to Gilbert as well, once the restaurant is up and running. They will continue to operate their Tempe location for another 18 months. From what I hear, they plan on having live entertainment, and just a ton of events. They plan on opening Feb 15th!!!!

.....but wait, there's more! According to Mouth by Southwest, World of Beer plans on opening its second Arizona location at Gilbert's San Tan Village Market place (literally 2 miles from my house!!!! walking distance!) I haven't been able to confirm this with any other source, but MXSW hasn't steered me wrong yet, so I can't imagine they will start now.

So beer fans of the east valley. In the up coming 4 months, we here in Gilbert will go from having a couple of options for fine beer here in our fair city, to a pretty impressive collection of beer joints! What a difference a few months can make!

So, in a few short months, make your way to Gilbert, AZ, and have a glass or two with the Beer Czar!
Until next my friends,
Bottoms up!
The Beer Czar

Jan 4, 2013

Are you a beer snob, beer geek, or just a fan?

I have been reading a lot lately about what is craft beer, what makes a beer a "craft" beer, thanks in large part to a letter penned by the Brewers Association, defining, or redefining what makes a beer a "craft" beer. I am not here to argue or defend the merits of this letter. (I will say, I don't agree with them adjusting the number of barrels from 2 million, to 6, in order to let Sam Adams still be considered craft....if you have to redefine your definition in order to fit whomever you want, then your definition is meaningless, in my opinion). I am hear to talk about another aspect of this debate that has popped up as a result of this letter, I sort of side bar conversation. Beer Snob, vs Beer Geek, or just beer fan? Which one are you? What makes one a snob, one a geek, and one "just" a fan? Lets take a look at all three....

The Beer Snob -according to urban dictionary (my bible!) a beer snob is defined as "Those individuals who regard any beer that they do not drink as piss. Completely ignorant of climate, context, and social class, beer snobs are contemptuously dismissive of any beer that a mortal cannot walk across like Jesus Christ did across the water." Pretty good definition if you ask me, but lets go further.

The Beer Snob Chick (not an actual beer snob!)
I heard it put very well, that, a beer snob, is someone that uses their knowledge of craft beer as a social weapon. (thanks Kegworks!). I mentioned, off hand in a previous post that the one thing a beer snob hates more then anything, is someone that knows more about beer then they do, they want to be, and often feel they are, the most knowledgeable person in the room concerning beer. Beer snobs don't "share" their knowledge of beer, if they did, then they wouldn't know more then you, instead, they use their knowledge to belittle, or cut down others for drinking what they perceive as inferior beer. If you ask a snob "what makes your beer so good compared to this (point to the beer you are drinking)? What you will get, is first an eye roll, then a long, self indulging boring diatribe about grain bills, Plato, original gravity, boiling time, relative humidity, on base percentage, Libor rating and great number of other mind numbing set of metrics's used to confuse, and intimidate you, but do nothing to actually answer the question you asked. If you want to know if the person you are talking to is a snob, tell them that you love Guinness, and watch their face. If they look like they are smelling feet when they hear you say it, they are a snob.

Couldn't agree more....
The Beer Geek - Again, Urban Dictionary defines a beer geek as "A person who truly enjoys a variety of beer. Whether the beer comes from an enormous company or the tiniest brew pub. A beer geek often enjoys multiple styles of beer. A beer geek can be distinguished from a beer snob because a beer geek will not look down on people for their choice of beer even if it comes from Bud, Miller, Coors, Milwaukee's Best or Pabst." Again, pretty much hit the nail on the head.

The main difference between a geek, and a snob is in how they react to questions. Again, let a snob you like Guinness, they will immediately think you inferior, and look for someone more interesting to talk to. Tell a Geek you like Guinness, and they will get excited, and start asking if you have tried this beer, or that beer, in an effort to inform you that, if you like Guinness, you may just like a lot. They will never force a beer on you, or try and talk you out of one either. They truly love beer, and want everyone to get as much as they do out of. The one fault I find with some geeks, they seem to have lost sight of reason we all started drinking beer in the first place, its just fun. Its not all about styles, country's, brewers or distribution levels. Its about hanging out with good friends, have good beer, and having a great time. Ask a beer geek what makes their beer so good, and you may likely get a short history lesson on the style, and maybe even the brewery!

Beer games can be fun!
A beer fan, well, that's easy. Someone that drinks beer, because its good, and they like it. They don't care where, or by whom it was brewed, how it was made, or what the label looks like, or the bottom line of the company that made it. Simply put, if they like it, they will drink it. and how they decide if they like it or not, is weather it tastes good or not, period, end of report. They aren't opposed to beer games either.

Which one are you? All I ask, don't be a snob. I can't stand snob, nor can I stand being called one. To me, its an insult.I like to consider myself a good mix of a Geek, and a Fan. I enjoy the history, and variety that beer has to offer. I am not above however, drinking something that was, gasp, god forbid, brewed by a "mega brewer" I will say, I don't normally seek out those beers, but honestly, if given a Blue Moon, or something, a lot of that stuff I don't mind at all, and in some cases, even enjoy. Again, don't forget why it is we love beer (or at least should love beer), beer is good, and its fun. Its a social lubricant. If you take it too series, then you start to loose that, and once that happens, whats the point? Beer pairing dinners, beer tastings, beer reviews, these are all meant to be fun, and enjoyed. Its not a test, its not a means of impressing people. Its a means of educating people as to how much fun beer has to offer. Lets all keep that in mind, and have fun with it, that's why we do it, right?

Be a Dork, not a Douche...(thanks again to Kegworks!)

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Rocky Mountian Oyster Beer

So, the Wyncoop Brewing Company, Colorado's oldest brew pub, is brewing up a batch of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. For those of you unfamiliar with the term "Rocky Mountain Oysters" (you obviously haven't seen the Chevy Chase classic "Funny Farm") and are wondering where one would get oysters in the land locked rocky mountains, well, let me fill you in. Rocky mountain oysters are not oysters at all, they are in fact, testicles, normally from a young calf, sometimes from bulls, sometimes even from goats, that, for some ungodly reason, people in Colorado like to eat. I am thinking it has something to do with either the thin air, or the fact that marijuana is legal there.

Um, yum???
Now, admittedly, I have never tried these, and would have no idea what sort of flavor they would add to a beer, however, I have had a few Wynkoop brews, and they are really good, so they seem to know what they are doing there, so I will bet this beer is at least pretty good.

Originally brewed as an April fools joke, the beer is brewed with 25 lbs of of roasted jewels. They have even coined the term "3 BPB" = Balls Per Barrel. The brewery describes the beer as a "slightly viscous stout, deep brown in color with flavors of chocolate syrup, Kahlua, espresso, and a savory “umami-like note” that finishes dry and roasted" Sounds pretty good to me, well, except for the fact there are balls in it.....

My big question is, would you try this beer??? I would, just to say I did, not sure I'll be hunting it down, or asking my friend Tanya up in Colorado to send me some, that would be an odd conversation " Yeah, T, its Ken, I need you to send me some beer. Its the one with balls in it....."

Wynkoop was started in 1988 by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Well, until next time my friend, I'll raise a glass of ball free beer and say....
Bottoms Up
The Beer Czar

Jan 3, 2013

Beers in Space!!!

OK, so its not often on this site that I mention Natty Light (Natural Light) in a very glowing light, however, I was surfing around the net this evening, when I came across this video that I thought was pretty cool. Seems a couple of Natty Light fans decided that their beer of choice needed to be the first beer in space. So they set out to send a couple of cans out of the atmosphere, return it safely back to earth, and enjoy (?) it? OK, well, while I may disagree with their beer of choice, I love the idea of this, and this its a pretty cool idea. Maybe we can all get together and send up a six pack of Dogfish Head or something sometime. Anywhere, here it is.......

OK, so, the video isn't exactly new, sorry. I don't make a habit of searching for interesting Natty Light videos, so it took me a while I guess.

Until next time
Bottoms up my friends
The Beer Czar

Jan 2, 2013

Beer Czar's Beer Dinner

Over this passed New Years, my wife and I traveled to Las Vegas with the kids, to visit with my wife's parents, her brother, and his family. They decided, that this year, we would have a series of "pairing dinners". My In Laws, both wine lovers, along with the help of family friend Billy, did an Italian themed wine pairing dinner. My brother in law, and his wife Kate, did a Whiskey pairing dinner. While, not surprising, my wife and I were tasked with creating a beer dinner.

Home made pasta!!!
Let me just start, by saying these three meals were among 3 of the best dinners I have had the pleasure of sharing with my wife's family (and that is saying something, because my brother in law is some what of a smoke master with his back yard smoker, and has prepared numerous spectacle meals for our consumption). The wine dinner, was, if nothing else, filling! However, it was so much more. Anti-pasta salad, with a pinot grigio. Homemade pasta, with two sauces, manicotti, and baked ziti. I also learned a lot, mostly that my mother in law was holding out on me, seems she makes this amazing from scratch pasta sauce that is just the other side of amazing!

So Good!!!

The whiskey pairing dinner, hosted by Mike and Kate, was a great mixture of casual elegance, humor, and some amazing food, and great whiskey. Putting his aforementioned smoker to some good use, he started us off with some just incredible smoked salmon, along with a selection of great cheeses and fruit. Followed by, and I mean this in complete honesty, one of THE BEST pulled pork sandwiches I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, paired with some Jack Daniels Lynchburg Lemonades, and tater tots! Wrapped up with a selection of various dark chocolates, and some Woodman's Reserve Bourbon!

My wife, pouring the first beers
In between those two feasts, my wife and I got to host a beer dinner. Now I have done recipes with beer pairings in mind, as well as some actual cooking with beer. However, I have never actually put together an entire menu of beer infused recipes and/or beer pairings. It was a challenge I was up for! Here is what we came up with....

Course one- We started off with some warm, soft Bavarian pretzels, with some of Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale mustard. We paired this with Stone Brewing's Pale Ale. Let me tell you, if you haven't tried this mustard, do yourself a favor, and head to your nearest grocery store, and get some! Great stuff, and as you would imagine, tastes great on a soft, lightly salted pretzel, with a glass of chilled Pale Ale to chase it down!

Course Two - A smoked cheddar and bacon soup. Made with some aged smoked bacon cheddar cheese, and brown ale, this soup worked out really well! I made it, and paired it with Dogfish Head's Raison D'Etre, and I must say, the two worked really well together. The soup was great, and if anyone is interest, let me know, I'll email you the recipe (just drop me a line at thebeerczar@gmail.com ).

Course Three, the main course! Ok, I didn't go along with the standard, start off weak, and work your way to stronger beers method. Mainly, because I love this dish, and from the first time I had it, I thought this beer would go well with it. We made a baked, breaded, orange glazed chicken, with couscous, and green beans, pair with the world class Saison Dupont! Seeing as my wife's family hails from Michigan, I briefly thought of pairing this meal with Oberon, however, not only did I want them to try a beer I was pretty certain none of them have had before, I also think, and no disrespect to Oberon (one of my favorites) that Saison Dupont is a far superior beer. In fact, I feel, there are few better. As I expected, the pairing worked well, and I think the two complimented as much as I had hoped they would. I also think the beer was a big hit with that family!

Course Four - Dessert! For this, I made a chocolate stout mousse, and paired it with Rogue's Chocolate Stout. I was looking for Fullers Chocolate Stout, but they didn't have it, so I went with Rogues, and it was a pretty good pick! Despite the mousse not setting up properly (my first attempt at making mousse) it tasted rather good! However, my brother in law pointed out, as we were finishing up, and trying some other beers, that the framboise we tried actually paired better with the mousse then the stout did, and upon trying it, he was right. Rather then sharing a lot of the same flavors, the two contrasted, yet complimented each other VERY well! In hindsight, and going forward, I would probably pair a chocolate stout mousse with a framboise, or other raspberry flavored beer.

Like I said, this was a great experience, and I am glad we were giving the opportunity, as well as a respectful, enthusiastic audience to do this with. Not only was it a fun, filling, educational meal, more importantly, it was, as were the other two, meals shared, and spent in the company of family, making it all that much more enjoyable, and rewarding for us. If you ever get a chance to try and create a menu like this, or even just the pleasure of experiencing a menu like this, please do. I learned a lot, not only about the wine, and whiskey we enjoyed the other two nights, I also learned a lot about beer as well, that I didn't know before researching this meal. So, everyone will get something out of it.

Thanks to my lovely, supportive wife, for all her help, as well as my heartfelt thank you to her family, for not only providing us with a place to stay, and a couple of awesome meals while we were there, but for allowing us to share our love of beer, and food with you, and for your attentiveness, and enthusiasm for what we shared with you. We had a great time, thank you!

*note- I want to give photo props to my brother in law Mike, for most of the photos I used above!

Until next time my friends
Bottoms Up!
The Beer Czar!