Season 2, Episode 26 – This week, we’re back in Dr. Bill’s cellar, and talking about the business side of beer.
This week we’re back in Dr. Bill’s epic cellar, and we’re discussing the beer industry. We kick off the discussion with a beer that falls right in line with the discussion, Stone Brewing Co.’s Enjoy By 07.04.15 IPA. Stone is a big advocate of enjoying beer fresh, and really has led the way in bottle dating and stressing the importance of checking the freshness of beers before they’re purchased and consumed. Enjoy By literally tells you when to drink the beer. Drink it fresh!
The next beer up is Cantillon’s Grand Cru Bruocsella, vintage 2011. This beer kicks off a really important discussion about beer quality, in regards to localized nano breweries. Craft beer is booming right now, and there are a lot of great breweries opening (which is totally awesome), but it does come with its caveats. Brewing beer on such a small scale leaves a lot of room for mistakes and QA issues. We talk about how important it is to make the best product possible, since many new customers are trying beer for the first time. You don’t want to leave them with a bad taste in their mouth…right?!
Thanks again to Dr. Bill for having us at his home and in his radical cellar. You da man, Bill!
Season 2, Episode 25 – This week we’re at the ever-so-awesome Urge Gastropub in Rancho Bernardo, San Diego.
This week, we’re still in San Diego, California at our third stop, Urge American Gastropub. This show is a bit of a deviation from our normal shows in that Urge isn’t a brewery, but rather an awesome beer-geeky pub and restaurant.
Urge [bURGEr] Gastropub was founded in 2010 by owner and proprietor Grant Tondro and Zak Higson. Grant comes from a family of restaurant owners, and is a huge beer geek. Urge boasts 51 taps of craft beer, and an insane bottle list that even the geekiest beer geek would drool over. We kick off the show with a beer that’s pretty much impossible to get in Southern California, Anna from Hill Farmstead Brewery.
Urge is a restaurant after all, so naturally we’re gonna have some food on the show. Grant whipped up an awesome spread for us that included a few different burgers and some beer cheese fries. It’s all awesome stuff–Urge is no joke.
During the course of the episode, we sample six different beers from the brewery, and discuss them with Belching Beaver brewer, Sean Laidlaw. Sean started in the beer industry at Mission Brewery after returning from a stint at Sierra Nevada Beer Camp, which is also where he met our own Greg Nagel. After working at Mission Brewery for just over a year as an assistant brewer, he decided to just ship and start brewing at Belching Beaver.
The first two beers we try on the show are Me So Honey and Beaver’s Milk, both of which are very well crafted and awesome beers. But when we get to their coconut and pineapple infused IPA Great Lei, our minds are blown. Typically, coconut is used in stouts and porters. The roasted notes and tropical sweetness from the coconut really lends itself well to those styles. But when the coconut is paired with pineapple and the right variety of matching hops in the IPA style, it works amazingly well. For those who aren’t keen to IPA, this beer introduces hops and bitterness in a very approachable way by masking the bitterness with the pineapple while enhancing the fruit characteristics of the hops. The coconut really takes it over the top to make it a refreshing and tropical experience.
Next up is a beer whose name is a tribute to San Diego’s stretch of beer-legend highway, Hop Highway IPA. India Pale Ale in San Diego is nothing new, so for a new brewery to launch with an IPA named after such a legendary stretch of road, it’d better be great. This beer delivers. Made with Citra, Nelson, and Galaxy hops, this beer delivers lasting, clean bitterness and tropical hop bite. IPAs these days tend to trend more toward less hop bitterness with massive hop aroma and flavor. This beer pays tribute to the classic style, but also delivers the modern characteristics that IPA lovers today demand.
Belching Beaver recently announced that they will be canning their beers, which is music to our ears. Cans are super-portable and protect beer very well from light and oxidation. Belching Beaver is currently using a mobile canning line, but plans on installing their on canning line when the new brewery in Oceanside, California is built.
We can’t thank Belching Beaver enough for having us at the brewery. Next time you’re in North County, pay them a visit.
Season 2, Episode 23 – This week, we’re discussing beer cellaring with the legendary “Dr. Bill” Sysak at his home in Escondido, California.
This week’s blog post was provided by Yvonne England [John’s super-rad girlfriend]. You’re welcome. [Bracketed commentary supplied by John Holzer.]
This week, we go see Dr. Bill Sysak, the Craft Beer Ambassador for Stone Brewing Co.. He “handles the beverage philosophy” for Stone. We’re pretty sure he made that shit up, but it’s cool [He didn’t make it up]. He’s Dr. Bill. He can get away with it. He’s been around the craft beer world for a while, so he’s a great resource on all things beer. He’s known for cellaring (dudes, he’s been doing this for over three decades), so that’s why we went to his cellar.
We start the show with a 2012 Double Bastard Ale by Stone Brewing Co. As John eloquently notes, this beer cellars well, transforming into a beautiful beast filled with cameral and winter fruit loveliness [John didn’t say that].
Dr. Bill gives some advice on cellaring: if you’re getting a beer that you want to cellar, buy a case. Taste one fresh. If you like it, drink it all! But, if you want to start cellaring it, here are some rules (feel free to mix shit up). Look for 8% or stronger, bottle conditioned, and darker is better. Keep it temperature controlled—red wine temps, whatever that means [55º-65º]. Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations, direct sunlight, and minimize oxidation [This last one is direct more towards brewers]. Belgian tripels, stuff with wild yeast strains, and sour beers are also great to age.
John gets into a few details on his crazy cellaring adventures. He went a little nuts, initially [I did]. He admits it [I do]. He saw Bill’s cellar years ago and went bananas with The Bruery beers. It got out of control. Don’t do this [or, do]. Dr. Bill suggests a few styles to get you started (Barely Wines, Imperial Stouts, and so on). Then he provides a few specific beers: Big Foot, Old Guardian, Old Crustacean, and Old Fog Horn. If you’ve bought a case to cellar, try them every 6 months. When it peaks [you think it’s tasting great], drink them. Throw a party. Invite us [yes, do this].
Then Dr. Bill drops a bomb: saisons. You can cellar that shit. It’s risky, but potentially worth it. Matt disagrees [does he?]. He’s Matt. He does that. If you remember, we recently had a bad experience with an bad saison, but Dr. Bill explains it away: Nuance in brewing. A burnt kettle. It was unintentional. It was a bad side of brewing. These things happen you guys. Cool your jets [yes, do this].
If you want to learn more about cellaring beyond this episode, and you like to read, check out Patrick Dawson’s Vintage Beers book. It’s a great, scientific resource on cellaring. But, as Dr. Bill notes, it’s a practice. You should play around with it. Experiment.
Season 2, Episode 22 – This week, we’re drinking the final six beers from the Ultimate Box Set, Tracks 7-12.
We’re flipping the record to side B this week and sampling Tracks 7-12 from The Lost Abbey Ultimate Box Set. Be sure to check out part one where we sampled Tracks 1-6 because they were pretty killer brews. We’ve gone full Satanist at this point, mostly due to the hellish theme of the box set beer names, and of course, the alcohol.
Overall, we LOVED Tracks 6 and 12, but this was truly an awesome compilation of beers. Cheers to everyone at The Lost Abbey for crafting such unique and stellar brews, and for putting this box set together.